Wednesday, August 15, 2012

French Playground Rules!

Spending quite a bit of time on French playgrounds with Sebby during our vacation, I couldn't help but think about the book "Bringing Up Bebe." Although I haven't had the opportunity to read the it, I've been wanting to learn more about French parenting philosophies, mostly because I preceive them to be somewhat different from mine. 

We went to a playground almost once a day, sometimes twice a day even so were able to make some interesting observations. The biggest one was that :

French playgrounds are set up as spaces for parents to relax and children to socialize.

French playgrounds have NO swings!
The playground equipment was designed for children to use on their own. 

French playgrounds have benches all around the perimeters.
The benches are always full of parents & grandparents.
French parents do not follow their children around the playground!

French children go to the park to play with other children.
When they bring bikes or toys to the park, they are expected to share them with others.
Parents are quick to discipline their kids when they don't share or play nicely.

We embraced the playground culture in France and let Sebby play while we relaxed on benches in the shade. Since we were confident that other parents were supervising their children from a distance also, we enjoyed the freedom to do the same, using the time to chat while we watched Sebby and the other kids play. It was great!!!

I'm going to miss such laid back days at the park now that we're back in the English speaking part of the world where parents of kids Sebby's age either follow their children around at the playground or spend the majority of their time playing with them instead of stepping back to encourage them to play alone or with the other children.

Back at the Scottish playground today, Sebby was excited to get back on the swings! Although I didn't follow as closely as I used to, I returned to supervising him more closely too, especially since much of the playground equipment in our closest park isn't age-appropriate but that doesn't stop him from attempting to climb on it.

However, I realized that although I wasn't relaxing on the bench, I still had an opportunity to get to know a few other moms. One of them told me about an outdoor playgroup that happens every Wednesday afternoon at a little meadow just down the street from our place. It sounds like a lot of fun and we're planning to go next Wednesday. I'm really excited, I just hope it isn't raining!


Vanessa Strickland said...

Fascinating observations, Tara. It's funny but a swing set was one of the first things we got for our backyard here in Uganda. I would never get a swing set again. Our boys are mostly too young still to swing on their own so we're always required to be out there with them - which isn't always a bad thing, but it doesn't aid in teaching them to play on their own. They have plenty of other opportunities, but I wouldn't get a swing set again.

Tarren said...

Yea, I hadn't really thought about it till I went to a park without swings but swings are def more work for the parents!