Culture & Entertainment

Playground rules: I teach my kids to break them

By: Jennifer Gruden
Canadian Living
Culture & Entertainment

Playground rules: I teach my kids to break them

By: Jennifer Gruden
...or, "Up the Down Slide." Before I actually was taking my kids to the playground, I would have said that it makes sense to develop safe playground habits and teach kids to follow the basic playground rules. Which, as far as I'm concerned, can be summarized as: don't eat dirt, don't touch things that you know have come out of animals, hold onto the handrail and take turns. And one more, to be found at the bottom of this piece. I was surprised to learn that there is another set of playground rules, set and enforced by other mothers. And there is one rule that I've heard a few times and even had one memorable argument about that I can't support. And that is "the slide is for sliding down." What? Let's get one thing clear before I go on: I don't think kids should spend 3 minutes hogging the slide trying to get up it while a pile-up of eager sliders congregates at the top. Basic courtesy is recommended at all times. That said...a slide is a piece of plastic (or in a few playgrounds still, metal). It goes both ways. And I do not mean to trample on people who really want orderly playground rules to win out every time but...there is no reason to prioritize going down over going up. It's true that for most kids, going down the slide takes more time, and making sure kids get a chance to go down the slide falls into courteous play. But going up the slide is great for muscle building and coordination. And call me a child of the 70s who used to nail boards together at Harbourfront's adventure playground with rusty old nails (before everyone decided that was a bad idea) but...playground equipment should be for exploring, not for a series of prescribed movements. What's more, I honestly, truly do not get the need for parents to patrol playground rules that don't relate directly to safety. And while it's true that if someone is going up the slide while another child is going down the slide, there could be a collision, there's a simpler rule to teach that develops even better safe playground habits: Look down before you let go. This child has happily come up a slide Are there any playground rules that get to you? If you're looking for fun beyond the playground check out 15 fun outdoor activities to enjoy with your kids.  
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Playground rules: I teach my kids to break them

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