Adventure Playground (AP)

Enroll your child today!

Adventure Playground (AP) is an outdoor after school program open to both Parish School students and children who attend other schools (public or private). AP provides child-directed play opportunities, Monday-Thursday, 3:15 p.m.-5:30 p.m. on the Parish School campus for children 6-12 years old. Children may attend 2 or 4 days per week.

Child-directed play

When you think back to your own childhood, you may remember hours spent climbing trees, drawing cities in the mud, building an obstacle course for your bike, making capes from scrap material, taking apart a broken appliance, or just exploring a refrigerator box for hours. This was child-directed play, a vital process through which children understand themselves and the world.

Children’s play, particularly in metro areas like Houston, is often restricted by time and space; time because after school hours are filled with homework and other adult-directed activities, and space because the city is not designed for roaming children. The Parish School’s Adventure Playground provides both, and is staffed by adults who support and understand a child’s need to explore.

During self-directed play, children:

  • Are in charge of their own time. They can figure out what is important to them and what is worth compromising in a shared space.
  • Have the opportunity to make mistakes and learn from them. Play is, by nature, process oriented, not product.
  • Can work from their strengths, but are more motivated to tackle their challenges. Play is very motivating, even when certain aspects of it are difficult.
  • Have the freedom to try new things without the timeline and structure of a classroom. Incredible things are learned in a classroom, but information can become personal and applied through play.
  • Learn about community. When adults step back, children need one another, and individual strengths become important to others.

Adventure Playground

Developed in Europe after WWII, Adventure Playgrounds add two important elements to child-directed play: loose parts and playworkers.

Loose Parts are materials without a predetermined purpose, often discarded by adults – pvc pipe, tires, broken appliances, scraps of fabric, crates, salvaged wood, bicycle inner tubes. They are materials that encourage experimentation, because they are not perceived as useful to adults, but have limitless possibility and flexibility in children’s play.

Playwork is a recognized professional field developed on adventure playgrounds in Europe, distinct for its emphasis on supporting play without disrupting it or determining the end product. Support may include making sure there are plenty of materials on hand, or space to build projects. But it also might mean clearing away materials that haven’t been used for ages, to make space for new and different play. Playworkers believe that there is a wide range of play types, so support might be recognizing a child’s need to climb, hide, explore water flow, make costumes, dig a giant hole, or to have a rest in a homemade hammock. But more often than not, support means providing physical and emotional tools, then stepping back to give children time and space to try them out.

The play associates on our site have additional training in language-based learning differences. We can provide support to children who struggle with communication.

The Parish School’s AP is one of a handful of adventure playgrounds in the U.S. which provides an environment where children can understand themselves and the world through outdoor play.

For more information, please contact Director of Adventure Playground, Jill Wood.

For enrollment information, please go to Optional Programs.

“As a child, I grew up in the country…there were no computers, no X boxes, no Internet, no DVD’s. My playground was very much the same as what you have expertly put together for Cade and his classmates.  Tree limbs became swords, feathers from chickens and pheasants became Native American headbands and so on. One of my favorite memories was when my Uncle’s family arrived from being stationed overseas and all of their belongings came in a huge, probably 8 ft. by 12 ft. wooden crate.  My cousins, Johnny and Randall, and I quickly converted this in to a fort with outside walls, made from old fencing materials. We created several trap doors to the roof, put up flags that we made ourselves and played, contentedly, for hours, weeks and, I believe, years in our very own fort.
We were soldiers, cowboys, pirates on a boat and so on.”

– Carroll E. Wilborn, Jr, Senior District Judge & Parish Grandpa