The thought of letting my kids play with hammers, nails, boards and saws without my supervision makes me queasy. Some experts say that this type of environment is the best place to play -- it's called 'Junk Playgrounds.'

There are two areas in this playground. “Family Playground” (recommended for ages 3 and up, with adults required) and the “Adventure Playground” (recommended for 6 and up). Adults are "not allowed" in this area. The difference between the two areas had to do with riskiness. The Adventure Playground has hammers and handsaws—and junk covering the ground.


Reilly Wilson, of play:groundNYC, believes America is headed in the direction of playworker-run adventure playgrounds. “The pressures that parents are facing are extreme. There is palpable fear about letting children play unsupervised, and recess periods have been cut down to absurd levels,” Wilson told me. “Young people are coming home from school having not had reasonable opportunities to use their bodies or minds in self-directed ways, and then parents and caregivers are forced to police their activities further to ensure that they complete their homework.”

I often wonder if I don't allow my kids to explore, fall, get scraped up and allow them to navigate through it. I thought about these ideals this weekend as I was asking them to stop doing something - it was for their safety but in all reality, it wasn't THAT unsafe.

I worry I micromanage them too much. They are constantly wanting/needing my help to do things...did I do that to myself?

“Stay aware that your kid will learn more from how you interact with them than what you say in those interactions,” she said. “They'll feel it if you trust yourself, and they'll feel it if you trust them. You have the power to model self-reflection, asking for help, communicating and listening effectively, navigating influence, staying curious and playful.”

There's a happy medium in there for my husband and I -- sounds like we need to talk about it and find what we are comfortable with.

Check out this incredible article by Timothy Walker with The Atlantic with a full report of his experience taking his 4-year-old to the Junk Playground. It's fascinating.

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