Generally parents understand the importance of both outdoor and indoor play. Outdoor play has been shown to increase attention span while indoor play encourages more creative flow. However, when I speak with parents regarding their attempts to achieve regular playtime for their children, one of the most stated obstacles to play in general is weather. This is partly due to long standing perceptions that children should “go outside and play.” More than heat or cold, rain is the ultimate downer and leads many to stop movement and start a movie. Most parents don’t think of their home as a playground, but there are simple ways to transform a space for outdoor play while indoors.
A little creativity can go a long way in transforming an indoor space for play. You may not be able to fit a swing set inside your home, but you can use your furniture or purchase some inexpensive equipment to allow for big changes in how your child perceives his or her home. Combine suggestions into steps or stations, and you will have kids working off energy in no time.
- Create an Obstacle Course. Place furniture into new configurations that encourage your child to crawl under chairs or tables, jump off and onto square tiles, or crash into large beanbags and pillows.
- Set up an Indoor Hammock. Getting the head into different positions can provide the body quick and effective input, and hanging a hammock on hooks can achieve this without taking up a lot of space.
- Design a Space with Painter’s Tape. Place the tape on the floor in different patterns to create walking mazes, labyrinths, or hopscotch.
- Purchase a Scooter Board. Propelling across a floor with a scooter board can be a great workout and also allow a child to move in different planes of motion. You can learn more about scooter board activities and ways to use one with your child to promote strength, endurance, and coordination. Use this link to view. 5 Scooter Board Exercises
Another option for parents to consider is to visit indoor play locations in your community.
- Use Your Gym Membership. Many fitness clubs have separate areas for children to play while you get a workout, or have your child join a class with you.
- Tryout Indoor Extreme Sports Venues. There are businesses like indoor rock climbing and ropes courses that have areas for children that give them the opportunity to try at their skill level.
- Visit an Indoor Playground. Some venues are set up to include amenities like adult supervised play, nail salons, and lounges for parents to catch a break.
The benefits of outdoor play don’t have to be lost due to the elements of heat, rain or snow. You can achieve many of the same effects at home or by frequenting local businesses that welcome your little ones. Remember to make way for indoor play in your daily life. For more tips on play, visit the archives at www.playapy.com/blog. Have a playful day!
Amy Baez is a pediatric occupational therapist, award-winning author, and founder of Playapy. For more information about Playapy and its PALS Handwriting Program, visit www.playapy.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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