Creating community at the park can be simple to do and rewarding! Take a few minutes to find out about a new way to be make your park visits more meaningful.
Three years ago, a friend and I began a meaningful weekly activity with our children called Park Reach. We intentionally go to the park to build relationships with whoever is there.
I am a home school mom who happens to be in a home school group that has had park day for years. You may be a preschool parent, new to the area or simply looking for ways to be more present at the park.
Begin with One Friend You will want to have at least one friend along with you. It helps to have someone keeping a close eye on the children as you mix with other moms at the park. Many times moms just want to sit and let their children play. However, I have found that the moms that come with us to the park feel included and also assist us with the games and activities as needed. This builds community and encourages the children to build relationships as well.
It is almost like one big family at the park.
Occasionally, we find faithful friends who continue to meet us week after week. We ended in May with approximately 10 -15 families, meeting us weekly at the park. (some weeks less than others) About have of them were new friends and the other half were friends that we convinced to join us on our mission to make the park a fun and welcoming place to come.
Here are some tips f you would like to make your own Park Day Meaningful:
Decide a day of the week and time you will meet and stick to it! We meet on Wednesdays from 1 – 3. Its a good time for us to get there to make sure we are able to meet preschoolers and complete our work. Since we home school, this works well for us. Even if you don’t home school, you could go a certain night of the week or on a Saturday. Letting others know that you will return on a certain day and time, is the most important part. If the park goers seem interested in what we are doing, I put their number in my cell phone and text them each time we are on the way. Weather can prevent our party at the Park…so I can let them know.
If you would like to go to the park and randomly meet others, you can do that as well.
Bring Simple Supplies for Games We have found a few basic supplies to make sure we keep in the back of our van for our weekly outing. These supplies could include: bubbles for the little ones, colored scarves,cones, beanbags, a few baskets, and a jump rope.
Bring Snacks On a weekly basis, our numbers fluctuate. Especially since our own group that attends has grown. Some inexpensive treats include: Gummy snacks, ice pops, granola bars and watermelon slices. Our group provides the snacks and moms who would like to contribute do so. It’s important to check with the parents to make sure the child can have the snack.
Birthdays at the Park Our birthday celebration tradition began with one family bringing birthday treats. From that time on, it was an opportunity to celebrate birthdays without invitations, clean up or hassle. It was also a great way to easily provide the snacks for that week. Its perfect to pull out a few birthday games to play especially on that day.
Leave Room for Your Children to Be a Part of It At the beginning I did all of the games and worked hard to get my children interested. Now, the older kids can run some of the games and pass out the snacks. We also make time for the older children to play after the park time with the little ones has ended. In addition to the games & snacks, we have added a special program with songs, puppets and a short story or lesson. Now the older children can help with those things as well. The more ownership they can have the better!
Bring along an Extra Dose of Perseverance I mentioned we have been going to the park for 3 years. It has taken time to build momentum. In the early days, there were times that my family was there all alone. When I first began, I didn’t think through the seasons. Our park days began in August. No one was at the park with us because it was almost 100 degrees. You learn through trial and error. We made adjustments. Our new dates are mid September through April. Our attendance fluctuates. Some days everyone comes. Other days very few are there. I’ve learned that whoever comes our time is well spent being with them.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at the park! However, it is not easy! Many days I question if I have the energy and desire to go. But I can say each time I finish, I know that it was worth it.
My desire is to live out this verse – John 13:35 “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” We want others to know that we truly love each other and them because God first loved us!”
I’m so grateful for the friends that I have made at the park! My children have also learned to think of others before themselves!
What can you do?! You can be purposeful at your park!
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Segmented jump rope (perfect to draw a crowd)
CLICK HERE for your free pdf Park Game Plan