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Why Play Is So Darn Important: ParentMap’s July 2021 Editor’s Note

Support and encourage your kids’ development through adventurous play this summer

Patty Lindley
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Published on: June 28, 2021

closeup of a boy running through a sprinkler with a flag and other kids in the background
Photo:
Credit: Frank McKenna, Unsplash

Each year we celebrate arguably the most playful month of the year within the pages of our July issue. Here in the Pacific Northwest, June can be a bit cool and standoffish, weather-wise, and August too hot, but the bonny days of July (recent heat wave notwithstanding) are perfect for packing in as much family playtime as possible. And given we’re only now slowly emerging from pandemic hibernation, it’s all the more important that we make the most of this summer — we really missed out on so much last year.

So, let the wild-rumpus summer do-over start! 

We take a look at “the state of play” in Washington in this month’s feature. A lack of physical activity in our kids was a major problem even before the pandemic, which only served to dramatically exacerbate the degree of play deprivation. What’s more, many experts suggest that we’re going about play all wrong, that kids’ play today is too regimented, too routine, too “safe.” What our children really need? The opportunity to take risks in play, and there are plenty of ways that parents can support and encourage their kids’ development through adventurous play.

That’s where our Out + About feature comes in! We’ve rounded up some of the most jaw-dropping, challenging new playgrounds that have debuted so far in 2021. You’ll read about a playground that is a real-life game of Chutes and Ladders; a no-barriers playground featuring state-of-the-art structures that will thrill kids of all abilities; and a “risky” playground that you really have to see to believe, among others. These unique destination playgrounds will have your pop-eyed kids exclaiming with wonder and excitement, “What is this place?”

But sometimes the best playground is the one closest to home. That’s why we’ve packed some great, inexpensive ideas for transforming your backyard into a kid’s paradise — from cool kits, obstacle courses, sports equipment, games, messy experiments and more — so you can continuously reimagine your playing space all summer long.

This month’s Play List is remarkable not only for all the amazing opps on offer to get out and frolic as a family, but because none of them are virtual. Sheesh, talk about a word I’d love to take out back of the barn to the word-chipper: virtual. We’ve got farm fun, outdoor entertainments, a superhero challenge course, a squirrelly scavenger hunt and other animal experiences, planes, trains and automobiles, and so much more. Pace yourselves, people, and remember that we’re not quite out of these pandemic woods just yet, so be the pro in protocols and keep yourselves and others safe as you venture out.

Ready … set … play!

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