I haven't figured this out yet . . .
G is growing up so fast, and I know this because he’s graduated from the baby swings at the playground to the big boy swings. For the longest time he begged me to go on the big boy swings but I would say no because he wouldn’t hold on to the chains and the swing is pretty high off the ground. And even though he can’t create momentum for himself yet, I now trust him enough to hold on without trying to do a backflip while in full motion.
The playground is the perfect testing ground for a child’s maturity. Well, physical maturity anyway. It allows kids to gauge which of the other kids on the playground they can play with. I’ve spent a lot of time at playgrounds the last year or so and I’ve observed the following playground activities around the following ages (roughly);
Keep in mind that when I say playground, I’m talking about an actual playground for children, not a whole park that might have a softball field or tennis courts for adults too.
Ages 0-whenever they walk: This age is mostly for playground exposure. Most kids in this age group just sit or sleep in a shady stroller or car seat while mommy chats it up with other mommies. More adventurous parents sometimes let their babies out of the stroller and sit or crawl nearby. Speaking from experience, it’s inadvisable to give your baby a snack with wildlife nearby. Things could get ugly.
Ages 1-2: Depending on when they started walking, kids in this age group may actually be able to climb low playground equipment or venture up and down ramps. Ladders, both metallic or rope, can be difficult at the younger end of the age group. Slides are a milestone here because kids in this age group start to go down slides on their own. Despite the greater independence, there’s still a lot of handholding and parental trepidation about the safety of independent playground play.
Ages 2-4: The physical skills necessary to traverse most playground equipment should be developed by this age. Swings, slides, ladders, bouncy horses, and just about anything else that doesn’t require a whole lot of upper body strength are mastered, as is playing with others. The downside to this age is that kids can become daredevilish and there’s a greater possibility for “boo boos,” that require much coddling, kissing, and fussing over in order to feel better.
Ages 4-6: Monkey bars become doable and social play becomes more organized and planned out. The downside to this age is kids can become cliquish and mean.
Ages 6-8: I like to think of this age group as the tamest age group of all. Kids seem to play a little more nicely together, they don’t do crazy stuff, and they listen to their parents when they’re told not to jump off the highest point of the playground that’s fifteen feet off the ground. That’s really just my fantasy, though. Kids in this age group can be just as much of a nightmare as any other.
Ages 8-10: Kids sometimes come to the playground without adult supervision at this age and all hell breaks loose. Stick fighting, jumping off that fifteen foot high spot their parents told them not to jump off, and whatever crazy game these kids can think to organize are all fair game. This is the age where if you’re the parent of a younger child while these older children are there, you sometimes have to turn into that crabby adult and scold the older kids for the bad example they’re setting. For example, when my wife and I once witnessed and had to voice our concern to children of this age group pushing a terrified dog down a slide and laughing hysterically while they did it.
Ages 10-12: Playgrounds become less cool to be seen at. By this age, kids have bikes, balls, and video games to occupy their time with and are seen less often at playgrounds.
Ages 13-17: Teenagers don’t really go to playgrounds, but if they do, it might be for the following reasons; A) To make out, B) Drink a soda while sitting on the swings, or C) Do drugs. Ok, to be fair, some teenagers might take their younger sibling to the park and text their homies while sitting on a nearby bench.
Ages 18-21: Unless you had children really young and you’re there with them, what are you doing at a playground?
Ages 22-Death: Either you’re there with your child/grandchild/niece or nephew, or you’re a pervert.