Friday morning, I closed my eyes on the balcony and concentrated on my sense of sound. In the distance (one-block) I heard kids squealing with joy in a school playground. Reminded me of a great article about playgrounds written by Phil Taylor, an accomplished sports journalist.
I am captivated by playgrounds, a topic I have approached several times. In Playground Lessons. I suggested children play to better learn about the world around them and how best to connect with other people (peers, family members). They use the playground as transformative environment to learn. Playgrounds are a blank canvas for their imaginations to flourish/grow. There are no boundaries in a playground environment.
Phil Taylor’s feel-good column The Thrill Seeker details his visit to a playground with his grandson Rafa who at 2-1/2 wanted to go on the big kids slide designed for children between the ages of 5 and 12. Being responsible for his grandson, he was concerned he was being overprotective by dissuading Rafa and steering him back towards the section of the playground meant for kids his age. He processed with freedom comes discovery and joy, but also the potential for harm and disappointment. He decided to let his grandson go for it. He wrote: “Some bumps and bruises, literal and figuratively, are necessary for children to learn to handle the greater ones to follow. Ready for the world.” He referenced the philosophy of Helle Nebelong, the prominent Danish landscape/nature play spaces architect who purposely varies her designs to encourage children to take risks, choose freedom over safety, since freedom is key to learning how to adapt.