Exploring Local Parks

A great way for your young children to get exercise is to go to your local park. In my city there are so many parks, I haven't even seen them all. There are so many varieties of play structures, and since your tax dollars have paid for them, go out there and see what you've paid for. You'll probably be surprised.

I've never seen two children's parks exactly alike. Some have swinging bridges, movable clocks, tunnels, slides, swings, monkey bars, merry-go-rounds, see-saws, climbing walls, tick-tack-toe games, caves, etc. Sometimes there are large tires to climb on or swing on. Children certainly get a lot of exercise while exploring and having fun, all for free. And you can read a book, do some planning, or simply enjoy watching the children or playing with them. If you ever need a break in your day, a park is the perfect place to go because the children can burn off some steam and get some fresh air and vitamin D from the sun. It's healthy for everyone, including you.

Besides aerobic exercise for your children who are constantly moving, your children can build their arm muscles by swinging and climbing on monkey bars. I was never any good at pull-ups when I was young, because I had to lift my entire weight as I hung with my head above the bar. This is just as good as going to the gym, but you get more fresh air. And when was the last time you swung on a swing? It feels like you are flying into the sky as you pump your legs back and forth.

My children develop their creativity as they play house or pretend they are Peter Pan or Davy Crocket while they are playing. It all depends on the items at the park; some will remind your children of certain subjects they have studied in the past. For example, if there are two forts and you have been studying the Wild West, go to the park dressed up as cowboys with cap guns, and have an old-fashioned shoot out. Homeschooling comes alive when you change the environment to suit the topic you are studying.

Some parks have water that sprays up out of the concrete ground during the summer. These are great for cooling off and having fun. For years we had no air conditioner in our house, so when we went to those spray parks, the children had a ball while cooling down. It was like running through a sprinkler, except that the water sprayed from many different places and sometimes in unexpected ways.

One park I visited had a beautiful wooden structure that was huge, like an extended fort with lots of places to climb and play. There were indoor rooms and outdoor lookouts as well as bridges. I found this park at Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, about 45 minutes from my house on the day we took a small airplane over the lake for my son's birthday. We had brought a picnic lunch to cut down on the cost for the day, and as we looked around for a good place to eat our lunch, lo and behold, there it was. We had spotted it while we were up in the airplane and had determined to go find it.

All in all, exploring the parks in your community is a great way to spend your summer if you have nothing to do. Spring and fall are also good times to go, as long as it's not raining. Go out there and let your children get some exercise. You never know – you might have to join in the fun!