Despite some of the scare-stories in certain parts of the media about concreting over playgrounds, the fact remains that children across the UK are some of the luckiest in the world when it comes to having access to open and green space where they can play,

 

Every local authority is obliged to provide such facilities for families in their area and every household whether in the heart of London, another British city or a smaller town or village, can be sure that within a short distance of their home, is a park or a playground when there child can play.

It is true that facilities will vary in terms of quality and availability, but children are incredibly adept at making use of the most basic of equipment and having a great time, so if your local playground is a little run down, that really is no excuse not to take your child down there regularly.

What can I do there?

Well if there are playground facilities, with swings, slides, and other equipment, all you need to do is find somewhere comfy to sit down, keep an eye on them, but basically leave them to it (younger children might need more hands on engagement, even if this just means a push on the swings).

The playground should have some kind of protective material on the floor, so there is a minimal risk if your child falls. Encourage your child to try everything and mix with other children who are also playing. It is amazing how quickly kids who have never met before can become best friends over a newly invested game.

Playgrounds give your child exercise, fresh air, improve hand-eye coordination, and social skills. Really the list of potential benefits goes on and on.

What if there isn’t any equipment?

Playgrounds are great if you have one locally, but if not an open park is more than enough to get your child running around and having fun. Why not take them down with a few friends for an afternoon if the weather is nice. Furnish your child with a ball, a Frisbee if you can and they will keep themselves running around and amused for hours.

With friends, just the open space will do. Their imagination, and games they enjoy in the playground should be enough to keep them amused. If you or they need some inspiration, take a look at our section on traditional children’s games.

Every local authority should have a section on their website which details all the local parks and playgrounds in your area. Alternatively the Government website gov.uk allows you to find your local park online too. 

My child wants more:

After a while it is quite possible that your child could get bored of what your local park has to offer. Fortunately, England is also home to a whole range of Adventure Playgrounds as well, and these open up a whole new world of adventure, excitement, and opportunity for your kids.

There should be such facilities in most regions, although a drive in the car, or on the bus, might be required depending on where you live. If that’s the case, why not make a day of it. There are usually facilities available to keep adults amused as well as children, and once your child has begun, it will prove very hard to drag them away again.

Adventure Playgrounds vary widely in terms of facilities on offer. Some may be as simple as a few pieces of climbing equipment, and maybe some small hills to run up and down. Most children will get plenty out of this.

But some offer a whole lot more. Here is the www.playengland.org guide to some of England’s best Adventure Playgrounds:

·       Toffee Park, London: This Adventure Playground won the London Adventure Playground of the Year Award in 2011. It includes a tree house, allotment and nature garden, clay oven for firing pots and making pizzas, aerial runway and a multi-sports area.

Price: Free

Visit: www.toffeeparkadventure.co.uk

·       Oasis, London: Run by a charity in Stockwell, this playground offers a nature garden and karting track among a wide variety of activities.

Price: Free

Visit: www.oasisplay.org.uk

·       Harewood House, Yorkshire: One of Yorkshire’s biggest Adventure Playgrounds including climbing nets, zipwires and aerial walkways against the backdrop of the 18th-century Treasure House.

Price: £5

Visit: www.harewood.org/families/adventure-playground

·       Chatsworth, Derbyshire: At the world famous Chatsworth House, this Adventure Playground boasts a climbing forest and trailer ride. There's also a farmyard and petting area, and daily milking demonstrations.

Price: £6

Visit: www.chatsworth.org

·       Creepy Crawlies, York: A huge complex with mini animal farm, high-ropes course, wacky swings and a quad-bike racetrack. The inside play area features one of the biggest Astra slides in the country and lots of dressing up for keen thespians. Also on site is a hair and beauty studio, nursery, fitness suite, pottery barn and riding school.

Price: £5.50

Visit: www.creepy-crawlies.co.uk