Running and jumping outside helps get the wiggles out of your kids, so when they head outside to practice cartwheels or scale the playground set, rest assured their playtime will be a safe experience. Outdoor play supervision doesn't have to be a list of rules. With these tips, you can keep tabs on your kids and make a dent in your yard work list.
Sing a Tune Together
Whether your grade-schooler is making chalk drawings on the sidewalk or playing on the swings, make sure she knows to keep in contact by singing lines of a familiar tune back and forth every few minutes. For example, call out the first line of the child's favorite pop song or movie theme, then wait to hear her respond with the next few lines before continuing your work. You can't help but have a giggle-filled afternoon while singing and playing. Use the familiar lyrics as a casual form of call and response so your kids stay within earshot.
Create a Magic Moat
As you and the kids prepare to head outside for some active play, explain the house has magically become a castle with a moat! When they go to the yard or driveway, they will see items from the garage such as hoses, pool noodles, and jump ropes stretched out in a line. This is the edge of the moat, and if they cross they might encounter a fire-breathing dragon! Use the moat to block the end of the driveway so children don't wander into the street. Additional garage items can surround delicate gardens or hazardous yard projects to circumvent dangerous situations.
Whistle Like a Coach
Give your 9- or 10-year-old a shiny, new whistle on a lanyard that he can wear around his neck, just like his sports coach. Explain that each time he rides his bike down the road or climbs a tree house, you expect him to reply with a whistle when he gets to certain checkpoints. If you have multiple children, assign each a specific number of blows, so you get confirmation that each child is OK while they explore a wooded area behind your house or hang out somewhere out of sight.
Color the Forest
If your yard is especially large, you know it's important to set boundaries as part of your regular outdoor play supervision. Tie pieces of colorful ribbon around trees to show kids how high they are allowed to climb, or add them to fence posts to outline the safe exploration zone. As your children learn to follow directions and grow, the markers can go higher and farther by adding more ribbons or yarn (plus, they're a pretty visual representation for the passage of time!).
Now you're ready to combine outdoor chores with playtime. Let the kids soak in the fresh air while you complete your to-do list. Just don't forget to take a break and join the kids for a game!