Playground interaction teaches key cognitive and physical skills. But have you considered the extremely necessary social impact? Interacting with other children will teach and improve their social skills while also teaching them to understand the diversity of the world around them.
Today I’d like to share some of my experiences with taking my little girl to different playgrounds in our neighborhood and what I’d like her to learn from them.
Why Visit More Than One Playground in Your Neighborhood
Visiting the same playground doesn’t give your little one any exposure to other types of children or cultures. It can give them a limited view of the world around them.
Benefits of Visiting a Diverse Set of Playgrounds
Visiting different playgrounds in my neighborhood gives my little girl the opportunity to play with other children who represent a variety of completely different worldviews. She also gets to see and experience diverse cultures. In turn, the other kids get to experience her culture as well.
What I Learned and Tried to Teach My Kid
I also learned a lot along the way. My experience in the different playgrounds has shown me various parenting styles:
- Authoritative: Avoid punishment and threats and focus on positive reinforcement.
- Authoritarian: Create strict boundaries without being understanding of the child's feelings
- Permissive: Low demands with high responsiveness. More of a friend than a parent.
Letting my daughter play in different playgrounds, with children different from herself, has taught her that all children can play together. Now she knows she might be different from some of her friends, and it’s perfectly normal. There’s no right or wrong culture or appearance.
Aside from a day of fun and some much-needed time in the sun, my little girl comes home with a lot of questions after a day in the park. Her common questions include:
- Why do some children speak different languages?
- Why do some children have different skin colors?
- What’s the reason for some parents and children covering their heads? This is her favorite topic to discuss. We had issues around this topic until I learned with trial and error how to get my toddler to wear a hat, e.g. a sun hat.
Learning about Diversity
My little girl learns to experience diversity in real life. It’s so exciting for her to not only read about different people in her storybooks but to meet them and share some fun, games with them as well.
Using Important Parenting Skills for Teaching
You can use your parenting skills to teach diversity and how to embrace difference and change. Teach your children that it’s perfectly normal to be different from your friends.
Explaining What Racism Is
Some parents feel that it might be easier to avoid the topic of racism. However, children need to function as diverse individuals in the world as they grow up. They need to know what racism is, how to identify it and how to stand up to it.
Being Brave About Calling out Bullying/Racism From our Children
Ideally, we all want our children to go through life without being bullied or discriminated against. However, in the real world that’s not a guarantee. They could be the bully or the bullied. For the first, we need to call them out and educate them. For the latter, you’ll have to provide coping mechanisms and encourage them to be brave.
Learning that Diverse Children can Play Well Together
Teach your kids that different children can play well together. For example, invite kids from different cultures to a birthday party you host in the park. Children can have fun with other peers who seem to have nothing in common. Playing a ball game isn't limited to how you look or what you wear.
Teach Your Children About Various Cultures in the Playground
Your children should understand from an early age that the world is made up of different people. Show them that there are different types of children on the playground and explain what makes them different. Knowledge about cultures can turn into understanding and respect for each other.
Why It’s Important to Talk to Your Children About Racism
Talking about racism will help your children identify it when they see it. During your discussions, they must learn it’s not right and should never be engaged in.
Taking your children to different playgrounds is the easiest way to introduce them to diversity. They learn that the world is made up of different cultures, religions, and colors. It’s an easy way for them to learn tolerance and respect for people who have a different way of life from their own! This is how we prepare them for the adult world.