Summer Playground Fun: Pre-Teaching Children about Making Friends and Safety

Summer Playground Fun: Pre-Teaching Children about Making Friends and Safety

Playing on the playground or in the park is an essential summer time activity for children. Playgrounds offer children opportunities to get moving, practice social skills, and express their creativity. Pre-teaching children about interacting with other children and park safety can help trips to the park run smoothly. Here are some important points to pre-teach to children before heading off to the park:

How to Ask Other Children to Play

Asking new children to play can be intimidating for some children. Pre-teaching ways to ask other children to play can make this easier for kids.

  • Pre-teach children some ways to make friends. Ask your child how they could make a friend. If they cannot think of what to say, you could give them some phrases such as “Hi. What is your name?”, “Can I play with you?”, or “Would you like to play with me?”
  • If your child is hesitant to approach other children, you could help by asking what areas she would like to play in and encourage her to ask a child already in that area to play. You could also help her find kids who look friendly or look as though they could use someone to play with.
  • It is possible that other children will not want to play and it is important to pre-teach children how to be okay if other kids say no. You could pre-teach this, by talking with your child about how sometimes kids want to play something different or they may want to play alone and that is okay too. It can also be helpful to give children some ideas for how to handle another child saying no. You can pre- teach him phrases such as “Oh well” or “Maybe another time” and pre-teach things he can do instead, such as playing somewhere else or asking another kid to play.

How to Share and Take Turns

Sharing and taking turns can be challenging for children, and can be even more challenging in a playground setting with kids they do not know. Alleviate playground conflicts by pre-teaching with children about taking turns and how to respond if another child does not want to share.

  • Explain to your child that sharing is important because it makes other kids feel good, is friendly, and encourages other kids to share.
  • Pre-teach children phrases they can use to ask for a turn such as “Can I use that when you’re done?” and “Can I play with you?”
  • Pre-teach children phrases they can use when being asked for a turn such as “Come play!” or “You can have a turn when I’m done”.
  • Pre-teach to children that sometimes kids will say they do not want to share and give children phrases to handle this. Such as, “Oh well”, “Maybe when you’re done”, and “I’ll play something else while I wait”.
  • Praise children for sharing and taking turns. This praise will encourage children to continue to take turns and share in the future.

How to Use the Playground Safely

With so many options for play and so many different ways to use play structures, children may need reminders about how to play safely.

  • Pre-teach children how to use the slides correctly, by going down the slide on their bottom and up the stairs. Explain that the slide is used this way to keep kids safe.
  • Pre-teach children how to use the swings safely. For example, pre-teach children to be careful not to stand in front or behind the swings while other children are swinging.
  • Children often find creative ways to climb on the play structures. Pre-teach children how to climb on the structures safely. For example, pre-teach children to stay on the inside of the guardrails when climbing, to wait their turn to climb up when someone else is climbing down, and which structures are safe to climb.

How to Play Safe with Other Children

The playground offers children opportunities to use their outside voices, run, and play. This high-energy environment can lead to accidents with other children.

  • Pre-teach children to look out for other children and make sure they are being safe with their bodies. For example, pre-teach children to look for other children and make sure their path is clear when running and jumping.
  • Pre-teach older children to be careful around younger children. Explain that younger children can get hurt more easily so it is important to have a safe body around them.
  • Accidents can happen playgrounds, so it is important to pre-teach with children what to do if one does occur. Pre-teach children to check in with other children when they are hurt by asking if they are okay, even if they were not involved or it was just an accident.

With pre-teaching about making friends and safety, your summer park adventures can be a lot of fun!! Check out our post next week for cool games to play in the park.

Image: © Alena Ozerova| Dreamstime.com

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Nollie has worn multiple hats while working with the KITS Program. When she was a student at UO she was an assessor on the KITS research projects, a teacher in our school readiness groups, and a childcare assistant. Since then, she has taught KITS groups for 4J and coached other educators to implement the KITS Program.

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