If you’re after the best playgrounds in the Gold Coast, Brisbane, and Redland areas, look no further. Here we cover all of the top playgrounds in the region so that you can have a fun day out with your little one no matter where your adventures take you!

We think South East Queensland has really stepped up its game when it comes to offering some great play spaces for the young, and the young at heart. We like these playgrounds because of their nature themes, as well as adventurous play-designed spaces. Adventure play, also known as ‘risky’ play, is an important part of childhood, it develops physical skills, problem-solving, self-assessment, and risk detection skills, and something we encourage in our campuses and in our curriculum! So we thought we’d share our favourite playgrounds on both the southern and northern ends of the Gold Coast and Brisbane!

Southern Gold Coast

Livvi's Place at Goorimahbah - Place of Stories Playground

Straddling the border of Queensland and New South Wales at Jack Evans Boat Harbour sits an impressive new inclusive playground, Livvi’s Place at Goorimahbah – Place of Stories Playground.

This fully-fenced playground has play equipment so everyone can all play together, and includes two climbing towers with interactive play equipment, including binoculars and sound tubes, a carousel, a double flying fox, multiple swings, suspended rope bridge and an enclosed slide. There is also water and sand play, carved wooden animals, a water pump and sand table, and some accessible musical elements too!

The playground integrates stories of the Indigenous Seasons Calendar through art, colour, and storytelling. Children can wind the player up and then select a season and listen to Indigenous stories.

There are barbecues, shaded seating and shaded grass mounds to encourage social gatherings and picnics, and public toilets nearby. Parking is on the street. The second stage of development works was just completed at the end of 2023 and includes a youth recreation area, an Aboriginal Memorial Wall, as well as additional seating, picnic tables and barbeques facilities outside of the fenced play space.

Palm Beach Pirate Park

The new and improved Pirate Park at Palm Beach is finally finished, and it’s GREAT. After 12 years, this beloved southern Gold Coast playground had reached the end of its life, so the city kicked in $1.4M to revamp the space, located at Palm Beach Parklands, right on Currumbin Creek. The new design maintains the popular pirate ship theme, and provides a variety of different play opportunities and experiences for a range of ages. The new pirate ship play structure includes:

  • Climbing nets and ropes
  • Suspension bridge
  • Telescopes, cannons, interactive panels
  • Imaginary play elements
  • 7-metre-high crow’s nest towers
  • 8-metre-long tunnel slide
  • Swings
  • Flying fox
  • Spinning globe
  • Large basket swing
  • Row boats with talk tubes
  • Caves
  • Hammock
  • Sensory play elements
There are public toilets nearby, BBQs and the Dune Cafe steps away, as well as creek, which makes for a perfect day out! Just beware it’s a busy playground and parking fills quickly!

Schuster Park, Tallebudgera

Schuster Park adventure playground in Tallebudgera is not to be missed! We suggest it’s best for children ages 4+ as it’s a climber’s dream with two giant slides off the main tower, with a series of nature paths, with balance beams, jumping posts, sand paths with drums, and musical flowers, and stepping stones for your little adventurers. Plus there’s a small beach if you need to cool off, and two BBQs and a toilet block right next to the playground!

Tugun Park, Tugun

This castle-themed playground at Tugun Park is great for imaginative play, including a double Medieval Tower, a Drawbridge, a Knight and a Horse! There are arches, shields and bridges and more, all sure to inspire fun and games. Plus, there are two large tunnel slides and one open slides, all sure to delight. A swing set also entertains, with a parent and child swing alongside the traditional swings.

It’s important to note there are no shade sails over this playground, but the location is very cool and shady, with large trees and covered picnic tables. It is not fully fenced, but a fence does run along the carpark side of the playground, while the open side opens to large grassy spaces. There are also numerous picnic tables and BBQs right by the playground as well as toilets!

Galleon Park, Currumbin Waters

Nestled away on Galleon Way in Currumbin Waters, Galleon Park is a hidden gem offering a myriad of activities for families. This exceptional park boasts a variety of features including a learn-to-ride track, a playground suitable for both toddlers and older children, a basketball court, expansive grassy areas, picnic shelters, and convenient toilet facilities.

The playground received a comprehensive upgrade in late 2021, introducing an array of equipment designed to entertain children of all ages. The toddler section is thoughtfully shaded under a canopy, while the rest of the playground benefits from natural shade provided by surrounding trees. Attractions include slides, climbing ropes, a flying fox, swings, and seesaws.

Adjacent to the playground, there’s an impressive learn-to-ride track complete with roundabouts, traffic signs, and crossings, making it an ideal spot for young cyclists and skaters, including those on trikes, bikes, scooters, and skateboards. Parents will appreciate the ample seating available, offering a perfect view to oversee their little ones in action.

The park also features additional amenities such as a picnic shelter with BBQ facilities, a modern toilet block, and a basketball court. With plenty of open grassy space, it’s the perfect spot to lay down a picnic blanket and enjoy a leisurely visit.

Laguna Park, Palm Beach

The Laguna Park playground in Palm Beach is a great playground for ages 2+, check out the huge adventure playground, pirate ship, slides and rockers, a pedal power monorail, funny faces interactive boards and more. The entire playground is fenced, which is great for the little ones, and it also includes a Liberty Swing for kids in wheelchairs. Much of the playground is shaded by sails, and there are toilets nearby. The playground is surrounded by a lovely lake and a walking trail. A great bonus is that Laguna Park is steps away from Third Base coffee!

Bill Thomson Park, Elanora

Bill Thomson Park in Elanora has recently received an upgrade. Located next to Pine Lake, this medieval-themed playground has really brought the neighbourhood together like never before!

There are turrets and bridges connecting the playground together to create one large castle. A large flying fox runs along the lakeside of the playground, there are internal and external slides, a great swing set and plenty of imaginative play opportunities. This playground is more aimed at slightly older children, but agile toddlers can get around most of it as well.

In the same area, you will find basketball court, picnic shelter great for birthday parties and public toilets. Located a short walk around the lake is The Pines Shopping Centre, so you can grab everything you need for a picnic or just a coffee.

This playground is not fenced and steps away from the lake, so adult supervision is a must.

Robert Neumann Park, Currumbin

The Robert Neumann Park is smaller than some of the other playgrounds we’ve listed, but that doesn’t mean it’s not fun!

This nature-based playground has two mega slides, a toddler slide, climbing opportunities and swings. Note it is not fenced and sits near a duck pond, so adult supervision is a must! However it does have shade sails, a picnic gazebo, and BBQ is available, as well as toilets onsite and big open grassy spaces to run around.

Frascott Park Safari Playground, Varsity Lakes

Frascott Park has two playgrounds!

Accessed via Yodelay Street or Mattocks Road, the most popular section of the park is the Mattocks Road entrance safari-themed playground. Here you’ll find two play structures, one for the bigger kids and one for the toddlers. A huge slide and flying fox are keen favourites, while little ones will love driving the safari jeep.

The second playground is located by Yodelay Street and is well suited for younger children. There is lots of natural shade, and easy climbing opportunities on the playground. The playground includes bridges, a slide, merry-go-round, swing set and spider net.

Ronnie Long Park, Tallebudgera

The Ronnie Long Park is a great set of two playgrounds between the Tallebudgera Surf Club and the beach. With one playground suited toward slightly bigger children, it’s partially fenced, has a big climbing tower, large nest swing, spinning frame, and rockers. This area is shaded and has a rubber floor, while the second playground is more suited to toddlers. There’s a slide, two swings and a plane to climb in and on. This area is also shaded with a sand floor. Behind the playground is the surf club’s cafe for parents. There are toilets and BBQs nearby. Just beware, because the playgrounds are steps away from Tallebudgera Creek, parking can be a challenge on nice days.

Deodar Park, Burleigh Waters

Deodar Park is home to a total of seven slides, including a mega slide (which of course means mega fun!). Partly covered by shade sails, this small but mighty playground has elements suitable for a range of ages. Here you will find climbing opportunities, a flying fox, interactive panels, swings, a seesaw, balance rope and tunnels.

Alongside the playground is a fenced BMX pump track, suited to confident young riders. There is also a concrete basketball court and a large grassed area that allows for dogs off-leash.

There’s also a drinking fountain, picnic shelter, picnic tables. Note, there aren’t toilets located near the playground.

Broadwater Parklands

The Broadwater Parklands playground is one of the most beloved play areas on the Gold Coast with several fun areas for children to explore, and recently got a $5M upgrade with a new spiral tower over four levels, with interactive play equipment like a glockenspiel, binoculars, telescopes, suspended nets, rope tunnels and an enclosed slide.

There’s also a water and sand play area with carved sandstone, bronze sea animals, water pumps, mini weirs and water gates, an elevated sand table designed as a ‘fish and chip shop’ that can accommodate wheelchairs

Play equipment including play panels, swings, slides, trampolines, diggers, stepping stones, balance beams, a carousel, climbing walls, and climbing nets

And that’s just the upgrades. Further down the park, there’s also the huge fenced bouncy pillow, as well as a popular monorail track that circles the perimeter of the playground. There’s also a zip line that runs along one side. There is also an unsheltered sand-based playground with swings, slides, and climbing equipment. A jumping pillow, seesaws, and other bouncing play equipment provide lots of play opportunities for kids of all ages.

The Rockpools water play is a sculptural water playground. The water play area is designed with cool water fountains and vibrant marine-themed equipment. It includes a creek bed and several tidal rock pools for children to splash in and explore.

The playground features a liberty swing for all abilities. There are four electric BBQs near the main playground area, and several covered table areas near the main playground, plus shady trees and umbrellas in random places on the large lawn area closest to the café. There are several toilet blocks throughout the park, including accessible toilets. There’s lots of paid parking, but know it’s well-patrolled by Gold Coast City Council.

All Abilities Playground at Kurrawa Pratten Park

While not a new playground, the Kurrawa playground has play equipment to suit the needs of children of all ages and abilities, there are plenty of opportunities for fun and imagination throughout the three play zones within this playground.

Children can enjoy sand play, flying foxes, swings, including a Liberty Swing, slides, spinners, climbing equipment, and imaginary play while safely contained within the fenced playground. Due to the fenced nature of the park, this is a popular Gold Coast Kids’ party venue.

As a bonus, the playground is located next to the Kurrawa Surf Club and beach, so when the kids (or adults) tire of the playground you can easily transition to beach play.

Playground features: Fully fenced, flying fox, swings, slides, Liberty swing, climbing equipment, sand play, near beach, BBQs and picnic tables nearby, accessible toilets.

Holly Brooke Carter Playground (Bob Huth Park)

Do you have a dinosaur lover in your family? Then Holly Brooke Carter playground is the place to be! Located in Ashmore, the playground caters for a range of ages, with both a big and small playground at Bob Huth Park. The big playground is 3-storeys high and has two slides, and there’s a fun swinging bridge for children to climb across and plenty of high climbing opportunities too. The small playground has steps that toddlers can crawl or climb up without fear of falling off. There is also a small slide to tackle, and a few interactive panels.

Other elements in the playground include the infamous dinosaur, which survived recent renovations to the playground, to climb, a see saw and a dinosaur rocker, swings and a spinning swing too. The playground is mostly covered by shade sails, and the parkland has plenty of open green spaces with shade trees. There are picnic shelters, but no toilets or BBQs.

Emerald Lakes Parklands, Carrara

Check out Emerald Lakes in Carrara! The play structure revolves around a central ramp, making it accessible for everyone! Children can climb, explore, and slide their way through the play area, with additional slides, climbing webs, interactive panels, swings, a spinner, and a see-saw for endless fun.

Safety is a top priority, as the playground is fully fenced with only one entry and exit point. Shade sails and trees offer protection from the sun, ensuring a comfortable play experience. While heavy rains can make the surrounding parklands wet, the elevated design of the playground keeps it dry.

Conveniently located within walking distance to the French Quarter, it’s the perfect spot to play while parents enjoy a cup of coffee. Please note, there are no toilets or picnic facilities. Off street parking available. There is a bike path and walking track around the lake.

Codrington Park, Pacific Pines

Codrington Park in Pacific Pines is a fantastic neighbourhood playground designed to entertain children of all ages!

This playground is perfect for climbing enthusiasts, featuring an array of climbing structures, nets, bridges, and walls that will keep older children engaged and active. There’s also an exciting flying fox that will be a hit with everyone.

For the younger children, there’s plenty to enjoy as well. The playground includes a swing set, slide, mini pirate ship, and sand play fort, all spread out over a safe sand and soft fall play area. Toddlers seem to especially love running over the boardwalks and exploring under the bridges!

While the playground utilises natural shade, there are no shade cloth coverings, so it can get quite hot in the middle of the day. It’s best to visit in the morning or afternoon to take advantage of the shady spots. Additionally, there are picnic shelters and BBQ areas, perfect for taking a break or watching the children play.

Codrington Park is a great spot for a fun and active day out, offering something for every age group. Don’t forget to bring some water and sun protection to enjoy your visit fully!

Northern Gold Coast

Bim’bimba Park, Pimpama

The Bim’bimba playground is an award-winning park with a large outdoor amphitheatre, toddler play space, playground, teen hangout, and basketball court, which are all connected by a series of entwining paths perfect for bike and scooter riding. There’s also the metal music gong, the animal sculptures, and a spinning wheel. Everything is spread out at this park, with lots of little spaces for different types of play. The park really encourages exploration and the use of imagination.

It’s a climbing-focused park, so better suited to children ages 4+. There is a toddler area separate to the big structures.

The park is partially shaded by shade sails. There are also toilets and baby change facilities, as well as picnic shelters and BBQs on site and onsite parking for 50 cars, otherwise street parking available.

Eagle Tree Park, Coomera Foreshore

Eagle Tree Park at Foreshore Coomera is one of the newest on the Northern Gold Coast. It’s packed with areas for imaginative play and sensory play, as well as more traditional play equipment. It comfortably caters for all ages, and provides a range of experiences for all ability levels.

Based around a central ‘birds nest’ structure, the playground includes a standalone toddler play space, small basketball court and swing set. There are heaps of flat pathways for bike and scooter riding, a picnic shelter with BBQ and a toilet block.

This playground is perfect for those who love to climb! There are platforms to reach, bridges to cross and huge slides to come down again. Little ones are not forgotten, with a space that has a sandpit with hidden shells and diggers and a playhouse with interactive game and music features. There’s also a number of small slides across the park.

The bike paths allow you to link up with the Foreshore Jetty Park, which incorporates a launch pontoon for kayaks and a riverside setting for family get-togethers and barbecues.

On-site there are BBQs, toilets, and a water fountain. The area is accessible for prams, wheelchairs, bikes and scooters.

Tallowwood Park, Upper Coomera

Tallowwood Park is a fantastic spot featuring a large open green space dotted with shady trees, a beautiful lake with ducks, an adrenaline-packed bike track, and a fenced playground – it has everything you could ask for!

Pack the bikes and scooters and start with a walk along the lake, where you can spot ducks and turtles. You can do a complete lap of the lake or follow the length along the path if a full loop is too much for little legs. Then, head over to the playground area, where you’ll find picnic tables, BBQs, a nearby toilet block, a bike track, and the playground.

Children love racing around the bike track, taking on the twists, turns, and hills. Set up a picnic blanket and enjoy a morning tea break between rides. When they’re done with the bikes, it’s time for the playground. The playground is fully fenced, but be mindful of bigger children or adventurous toddlers who might try to climb the rock wall section.

Tallowwood Park offers a perfect mix of activities and facilities for a fun day out! And parents don’t worry, Cafe Two Coomera is not far away!

Parklake Park, Maudsland

The Parklake Park playground is a child’s dream! It has six different playground play spaces and a large park to explore, with a giant brightly-coloured two-level treehouse fort with two slides, several sets of swings including a nest swing, rockers, and see-saws, flying fox, suspended rope bridge, a play car, climbing dome turtle and drums!

There’s also shade sails or large established trees that provide shade over the majority of playground play space, a large sporting field, wide walking paths, one gazebo and several BBQ picnic shelters scattered throughout park, a basketball court, on-site public toilets and an off-street carpark.

Gibirrngaan Park (Black Snake Park), Maudsland

Gibirrngaan Park/Cloverside Park is a unique one! It’s centred around a huge black snake statue. There is play equipment for both young and old with a toddler cubby and slide, as well as a giant rope-climbing tower and enclosed slide for the bigger kids. There’s even a fun sandbox to dig for dinosaur fossils!

There are no toilets or cafes nearby so be prepared. There are several shaded picnic tables for snack breaks.

Lion's Park, Helensvale

Lion’s Park at Helensvale is a huge playground that caters for everyone, especially the climbers, as the only way to the fort is by climbing nets!
The main fort is pirate-themed and features a lookout, a large fort, net bridges, monkey bars, a mega slide, a parkour gym and heaps more!
For toddlers and little ones, there is a smaller playground featuring a mini fort, slide, rocker, see-saw and stepping stones.

Within close proximity are:

  • Barbecues
  • Toilets including a wheelchair-accessible toilet
  • Drinking fountain
  • Picnic shelter
  • Picnic tables

Buckler Park, The Surrounds Helensvale

The Surrounds at Helensvale boasts an innovative playground designed for children to embark on a tactile and sensory journey. It offers numerous play elements, encouraging safe risk-taking and physical and mental challenges. The standout feature for older children is a large, double climbing cube structure, with slides accessible via climbing points and rope nets, ideal for those who love a challenge. Meanwhile, trampolines, a rope swing, and a flying fox provide ample fun for all.

A separate, smaller playground caters to younger children or those less confident in climbing, featuring slides, a ride-on jeep, and a see-saw. Additionally, a sand and water play area promises heaps of messy fun.

Perfect for birthday celebrations, the site includes a large picnic shelter with BBQs, tables, and bench seats, all under shade sails for comfort. To avoid the heat, early morning or late afternoon visits are recommended. Conveniently, a café and toilets are nearby at the community centre, making it an ideal spot for families.

Celadon Park, Helensvale Surrounds

Celadon Park is located in the Helensvale Surrounds estate. This is a great play space for 0-5 year olds with its to the endless opportunities for imaginative play! This playground doesn’t feature any of your traditional play equipment pieces and allows for creative play!

The playground is surrounded by an interactive bike track designed to help kids of all ages learn how to ride a bike. Incorporating traffic signs, a petrol station for refueling, a fire station for imaginative play and a small pump track component for the children looking for a challenge, do not forget to bring the bikes or scooters on this visit!

The playground is shade-sail covered, but the bike track is not. Note there aren’t toilet facilities or BBQs. Picnic tables, rubbish bins and a water fountain are available.

Discovery Park, Helensvale

This popular Helensvale Park got an upgrade in early 2024, moved away from busy Discovery Drive, the fully fenced playground is now situated further into the parklands behind the Tennis Club. It caters to a wide range of ages with varying climbing structures. The playground features two play towers with a bridge, a small ninja climbing structure, a swing set, and a spinner, providing plenty of opportunities for engaging play.

Due to its new location, access involves a bit of a walk. The best parking spot is by the Tennis Club; from there, follow the path entrance to the right of the Tennis Club, running alongside Helensvale State School. Continue on this path, looping around beside the school and behind the Tennis Club to reach the playground. 

Toilets are available at Discovery Park, located near the skate park and close to the Discovery Drive entrance, though they are not very close to the playground itself. The playground offers natural shade from the trees, but there are no shade sales.

Country Paradise Parklands, Nerang

The centrepiece of the adventure playground at the Country Paradise Parklands is the 11.5m windmill with mega slide, accessed via a water-tank tunnel and swing bridge. Wrapping around the entire playground space is a creek bed with water play elements. There are toddler and primary schooler play spaces, as well as the central playground for everyone to enjoy. The water play area features water pumps, troughs and ramps, encouraging the kids to build natural channels for the water to flow.

This area includes BBQs, toilets including accessible ones, a drinking fountain, picnic shelter and picnic tables.

Just beware, we’ve heard magpies can get nasty during mating season.

The Backyard, Coomera Westfield

An unexpected gem at a shopping centre! The Backyard at Coomera Westfield offers a lot for children of all ages!

There’s an age one – four years play zone: a ‘fallen log’ immersive sensory zone entertaining children with tactile, auditory and visual experiences. The fallen log includes cubby and hiding spaces, sound tubes, a playful tunnel experience and slippery slide.

Then there’s an ages four – eight years play zone: a fun-filled obstacle course providing imaginative and adventure play. The space includes numerous balance and climbing experiences, trampolines, swings and a spiral slide.

The real highlight of The Backyard, particularly on hot summer days, is the water play area, which features ankle to knee-deep water, children can pump the water pumps, dodge squirting frogs, spin water wheels and explore the winding streams of water. The Backyard features big shade sails and grassy banks, and has deck chairs for the adults. There are change rooms are right beside the water area, plus toilets and BBQs. The Backyard is also conveniently located right next to the shopping centre’s fresh food Marketplace!

Green Grove Park, Pimpama

Green Grove Park in Gainsborough Greens (Pimpama) isn’t the biggest playground in the area, but the playground’s interpretive and educational play experience is why it received an Award of Excellence – Play Spaces at the 2019 Queensland Landscape Architecture Awards in recognition of the playground’s elements of exploration, discovery, role play, balance, climbing, storytelling, exhilaration, and social interaction.

Children will enjoy this award-winning adventure playground with its eight-metre-high hill slide, timber log play forts, sandstone block stair climb, and sand play at the base. The playground also includes a reclaimed fallen tree for climbing over as well as big sandstone boulders and climbing structures. The area is connected by pathways and dry creek beds.

Note, there are no toilet or BBQ facilities available.

Aquila Park, Pimpama

Aquila Park’s playground is a haven of fun, featuring a fantastic water play area with dynamic spouts and pumps, an impressive slide tower, a spinner, and various climbing and balancing equipment. Designed to keep children engaged for hours, the playground is divided into four zones, each offering activities suited to different ages and skill levels. The layout ensures all areas are visible from the surrounding seating, making it a hit with parents too.

Zone 1 offers a gentle introduction with a swing set, a small cubby house, rope balance beams, and a see-saw.

Zone 2 is a paradise for sand play enthusiasts, equipped with diggers, water play tunnels, spouts, pumps, and troughs.

Zone 3 focuses on climbing, featuring a small structure with a slide, mushrooms for hopping, colourful boulders for climbing, and a four-seater spinner.

Zone 4 boasts the slide tower, standing 9m tall with two slides catering to different confidence levels, mesh panels for peeking through at the top, and a side rock climbing wall.

Additional features include a small bike path around the playground, perfect for scooters or bike learners, and a dry creek bed for exploration. With a toilet block, BBQ, and picnic tables on site, Aquila Park promises a fun outing for families.

Hilltop Park, Ormeau

An oldie but a goodie! Hilltop Park is split into two sections, you’ll find a shady toddler play area with a car, climbing frame and mini playground with slide and swing in one area.

The main playground space is better suited for bigger children, with a larger playground and slide, large climbing net, balance beams, spinners and a swing set. Little ones can also climb the ramp up to the old water tower, which has been converted into a play structure.

Toilets, a BBQ , water bubbler and picnic shelter are right beside the playground, with additional shady seating all through the park.

Redlands

Thornlands Community Park, Thornlands

Thornlands Community Park is a nature-themed playground that includes multiple nature-inspired installments. Children will be able to spot plenty of fun larger-than-life vegetables scattered around the playground too!

The park features a ‘dinosaur dig’ area where kids can uncover a large dinosaur fossil buried in a sandy pit, with excavation tools included. Alongside this is a large sandpit with diggers and the area is rimmed with large stone and wood stepping stones.

you will find a huge, three-towered climbing structure which features two giant enclosed slides, climbing nets, enclosed netted walkways and even a pirate ship crows nest.

It has large climbing mounds covered in soft matting and a delightful little farmers market cottage with slide. It has a slide, outdoor dining area and a couple of little spots to set up in.

The playground also features a two-person flying fox, ninja warrior-like climbing course, swings and includes sensory and all-abilities play too!

The park features accessible toilets, is partially shaded by shade sails, BBQs, picnic shelters with tables and benches.

Jingeri Park, Shoreline, Redland Bay

The Jingeri Park playground has been designed with climbing and sliding in mind with several options offered to scale the elevated playgrounds with two slides to come back down!
The playground at Jingeri Park was created in partnership with the traditional owners of the land. The structures within the playground have been designed to embody the local landmarks, including an 8.5m lighthouse and a jetty.
The park also has a picnic area and shaded areas to enjoy some lunch or a coffee whilst the children play.
Jingeri Park also showcases native flora, including three fig trees being relocated from the Shoreline site, chosen for their ties to First Nations culture and local plant species.

Mount Cotton Community Park, Redlands

Mount Cotton Community Park has a wonderful mix of slides, tunnels, monkey bars, balance beams, and a challenging climbing web. The main play structure has several ideal look-out posts and a bridge that invokes fantasy games of houses and ships. There’s a great toddler section too, with its own mini fort featuring low-set stairs and slides, plus musical instruments, a sand activity table, and a large plastic igloo. Both playgrounds are covered by a shade sail and surrounded by sand.

Other features include a flying fox, a basketball court, skate park, off-leash dog area and lots of green space. The parkland also has wheelchair-accessible toilets, electric BBQs, covered picnic tables, and a network of wide concrete paths.

Capalaba Regional Park, Capalaba

Capalaba Regional Park is a great all abilities playground, with a giant terraced playground for children of all ages, in which they can clamber, swing, wander, wheel, and interact with sensory installations. The climbing webs, a fortress, flying fox, built-in slides, a sandpit, and totem pole maze are supported by sensory equipment such as steel drums and an audio spinning wheel.

The playground is overlooked by BBQ and picnic pavilions and with wheelchair-accessible paths winding throughout. There’s also covered areas and accessible toilets nearby.

The park also boasts a spacious dog off-leash area, lily ponds, and a number of paths for walking or cycling.

O'Gorman Street Park, Alexandra Hills

O’Gorman Street Park received a high commendation in the recent Queensland Parks and Leisure Conference Awards of Excellence for its ‘outstanding and innovative upgrade’ just a few years ago.

The park offers swings for babies and children, musical play, a basketball court, slides, climbing ropes, and plenty of things to climb and jump over.

The accessible park also has drinking fountains, BBQs, public toilets and plenty of shade and picnic shelters.

Our Top Logan Playgrounds

Logan Village Green playground

This fantastic playground features a birds’ nest lookout, slides, trampolines, a flying fox, totem poles with ropes, a dry creek bed, and a range of swings for all ages and abilities.🌲

The highlight for us is the mega slide, with a fun and impressive climb up to the top via logs and net tunnels and through several platforms, including some that resemble a birdhouse and a birds nest. There’s also a mini slide off the bottom platform.

It also has a balancing obstacle section including natural stumps, logs and ropes to test the balance of visitors. The shaded soft play section has multiple swings for visitors of different abilities.

There are three inground trampoline pads and a ground-level round-about that is fun for all visitors and accessible for people in wheelchairs.

The area also includes covered picnic tables, park benches and sandstone blocks for seating, barbecues, accessible toilets, skate park nearby (across the oval) and wide cement paths.

Eridani Park, Logan

Located in Logan is Eridani Park! This park and playground have just had an exciting new upgrade, featuring a brand new nature play area!

This recreational space features a wide, rocky creek bed with water pumps! There are multiple opportunities for crossing the creek bed, including bridges, logs and sandstone structures. This new space is perfect for children of all ages to enhance gross motor skills and coordination.
New additions to the playground include a spinning carousel, a new set of swings including a nest swing and a flying fox!

There’s also accessible toilets, a BBQ area, basketball court and a picnic area.

Bellubera Park, Yarrabilba

 Billubera Park boasts over 5.6 hectares of parkland, the park features two multi-level play towers, a 10-metre elevated ‘maze bridge’ walkway and a 4.5-metre tube slide! 

This playground also features a ninja warrior course for those little risk-takers, as well as a basketball court, nature play areas and two large ovals. This park also has toilet facilities and plenty of seating.

In the Yugambeh language billubera means ‘a clear sky or fine day’  this name was chosen as it represents the prospect of having clear, fine and sunny days at this family orientated parkland.  The language connects the site back to country and shares culture with the wider community. 

Alexander Clark Park, Loganholme

Alexander Clark Park at Loganholme is brand new and full of fun activities for the family to enjoy! With its unique Australian animal theme and water play area, it’s the perfect spot for a weekend adventure!

The main playground features a large koala structure, providing climbing opportunities and a thrilling slide. The park also includes a bike path with two small pump tracks, a flying fox, swings, trampolines, a small slide, and a digger for added fun.

One standout feature is the engaging water play area! Children can enjoy a gentle spray of water from misters, water pumps, and a network of channels to direct water flow.

Additional amenities include toilets, shade sails, and picnic tables, making it a well-equipped destination for family outings.

Flagstone Adventure Park, Jimboomba

Located within the expansive 10-hectare Flagstone Regional Park, this adventure playground stands as one of the largest in South East Queensland, promising endless fun for children of all ages. The playground thoughtfully includes a dedicated toddler zone for younger children and those preferring to stay closer to the ground. This area boasts a low-level fort equipped with miniature firemen’s poles, tiny ladders, and slides of various heights. Little explorers can also navigate a caterpillar-themed climbing web or venture through a long tunnel that’s nestled into the ground.

For those bursting with energy, the playground offers a competition-standard skate plaza and a concrete half basketball court. There’s also a multi-purpose grass field outfitted with basketball hoops and soccer goalposts for sports enthusiasts.

The central playground section is well-shaded by sails and encircled by sandstone blocks, creating a comfortable spot for carers to relax while the children enjoy prolonged play sessions. Additional attractions within the playground include in-ground trampolines, bouncers, bike paths, merry-go-rounds, twin flying foxes, and eight swings. This selection features two all-abilities net swings and two swings for infants, ensuring enjoyment for all.

Right next to the Flagstone Adventure Park lies the equally impressive Flagstone Water Park, complete with a café for those looking to grab a coffee. There are public toilets, but no BBQs, and off-street parking.

Our Top Ipswich Playgrounds

Faye Carr Park, Ripley

Check out Faye Carr Park in Ripley, a rocket ship-themed playground designed for the whole community.

The standout feature is the impressive trio of red and green pods, which have become a landmark of the Ecco Ripley development since its opening in 2018. These custom-designed pods by Playscape Creations are a first for Australia, offering sensory delights like cogs, steering equipment, and rainbow spinning wheels, all connected by a bridge. The exterior is just as engaging with ladders, slides, staircases, and fireman poles for endless fun.

For younger children, there’s a separate toddler playground complete with a mini slide, ladder, and puzzles. The area also includes a five-person swing circle, a rotating net climber, a see-saw, and a double-track flying fox for inclusive play.

Sports enthusiasts will enjoy the middle section of the park with multipurpose fields for soccer, rugby, and basketball, as well as an outdoor workout zone. Picnic shelters and BBQs make it perfect for a family outing.

 Over 20 developmental activities between the main and toddler playgrounds promote educational play in a fun outdoor setting. The park also emphasises social play with shared swing circles, rotating net climbers, and multi-track flying foxes, encouraging greater participation.

The parklands are wheelchair and pram friendly, with accessible pathways connecting all areas. The seated playground equipment, including an adaptive swing, see-saw, and net climber, are designed for inclusivity.

Faye Carr Park Features:

  • Accessible toilets
  • Unfenced
  • Baby change table facilities
  • Playground 50% covered by shade sails
  • Rubber, bark chip, and sand base
  • Adaptive swing with harness
  • Learn-to-ride track
  • Basketball court
  • Fitness equipment
  • Open kick-around area
  • Soccer/rugby field
  • BBQs
  • Picnic shelters
  • On-street parking

Orion Mega Playground, Springfield

 A multi-million dollar playground that is accessible and engaging for all ages is the incredible result of a consultation between locals and Orion Shopping Centre.

The main attraction is a vibrant activity centre with a tower reaching 11 metres high, accessible via internal ladders or a 16-metre Sky Walk bridge offering a birds-eye view of the playground below. Two enormous tunnel slides flank the tower, perfect for young thrill-seekers. Note that the play area is not fenced from the nearby car park, so close adult supervision is necessary.

For children who prefer to stay grounded, the playground features in-built trampolines, mountaineering ropes, and a large climbing net tunnel. A wheelchair-friendly merry-go-round promotes inclusive play.

The toddler area includes slides, stairs, a rock climbing wall, a fire pole, a colourful see-saw, and a cognitive play hut with educational activities. Swings are available for both independent children and those needing assistance. Most of the playground is covered by shade sails or roofing for sun protection.

Redbank Plains Recreation Reserve Playground, Redbank Plains

Located just 15 minutes from Ipswich city, the recently upgraded Redbank Plains Recreation Reserve has become a popular community hub for gathering, playing, socialising, and relaxing.

The central playground features a 9-metre tall adventure tower made of cargo netting, platforms, and ladders, offering a vertical thrill for older children. Climbers can choose between a speedy tunnel slide and a twisty tube slide. The roped exterior allows for easy parental supervision.

The reserve also boasts a 20-metre high ropes course, challenging balance, strength, and coordination, with opportunities for adults to assist younger climbers. Additional features include a giant rotating bird’s nest swing, a multi-bay swing set, and sensory spinners.

A dedicated toddler playground caters to ages one to five with accessible platforms, ground-level activities, gentle slides, and imaginative play areas. Essentials such as swings, see-saws, bouncers, and an inclusive carousel are built on a soft base with ample shade sails. Nearby seating is available for supervision and picnics.

The reserve also includes a newly renovated skate park, suitable for skaters of all levels, adjacent to a large grassy field ideal for soccer, cricket, or kite flying.

Additional features:

  • BBQs
  • Car Parking
  • Dog Off Leash Area
  • Drinking Water
  • Gazebos/Rotunda/Shelters
  • Picnic Facilities/Seats/Benches
  • Power
  • Public Toilets

Splash n' Play Adventure Park, Ripley

The rapidly expanding Ripley Valley is home to several state-of-the-art playgrounds, and the Splash ‘n’ Play Adventure Park is a standout. Designed for all age groups, the park features towering sky cabins at 7.5 metres high, connected by enclosed rope bridges for safety. Children can exit the playground via a straight tubular slide, a twisted mega slide, or by climbing down netted ladders. This section is ideal for children over 5, though confident younger climbers can also enjoy it.

The park also includes a flying fox, a small swing set, and toddler-friendly options in the neighbouring play area.

Directly across from the playground is a shaded, multi-age Splash ’n’ Play area with water fountains, movable sprayers, button-controlled jets, and waterfall arches. This area is divided into two sections, allowing smaller children to play safely away from the larger splash zone. The non-slip rubber base and ample seating enhance safety and supervision.

For families, the Forty West Café at the top of the adventure park serves delicious coffee and food daily. A takeaway coffee is ideal, as a tall garden partially blocks the view between the café seating and the playground below.

  • Accessible toilets
  • Not fenced but set back from the road
  • Largely shaded playground and water play area
  • Zero-depth Splash ‘n’ Play area
  • Mixture of bark, artificial turf, and rubber base
  • Family-friendly café
  • Showers
  • Picnic shelters
  • BBQs
  • Open kick-around area
  • Ample on-site parking

Sunshine Park, Bellevue Ripley

As you approach the Sunshine Park playground, the central tower immediately catches the eye. Standing at 8 metres tall with three levels, it invites children to come and play. Inspired by the towering trees and creeping vines of a rainforest, the structure is both impressive and engaging.

Children can access the different levels through vertical climbing tunnels, ball pommels, and nets. The internal decks are inclined to provide an extra challenge. Once at the top, the 4.5-metre tunnel slide offers a thrilling descent back to the ground.

In the junior play area, there is a cubby-style fort with interactive elements decorating the walls. A small slide is easily accessible for little ones using stable stepping platforms.

For those who love to run or play ball sports, Sunshine Park features a basketball half-court, a handball court, and a generous kickabout area. There’s also a small pump track designed to manoeuvre around without pedalling, providing an additional challenge for competent riders and a fun spot for little ones to push their diggers down the hills.

Features:

  • 8-metre tall central tower with three levels
  • Vertical climbing tunnels, ball pommels, and nets
  • 4.5-metre tunnel slide
  • Junior play area with cubby-style fort and interactive elements
  • Basketball half-court, handball court, and kickabout area
  • Small pump track
  • No public toilets

Sunshine Park is an engaging and versatile playground, offering a variety of activities for children of all ages.

Tucker Family Park, Bellbird Park

Tucker Family Park is one of the best parks in Ipswich for children of all ages and abilities, set in a beautiful, nature-filled environment. This park offers a range of exciting features:

Key Attractions:

  • Giant Cube Tower: An impressive 11-metre structure with an 18-metre steel slide, providing plenty of thrills.
  • Toddler-Friendly Features: Includes a smaller slide from the second level of the cube and a dedicated play fort for younger children.
  • Sports Facilities: A large sporting field with goal posts and a fenced multi-purpose court for basketball and other games.
  • Nature Trails: Concrete pathways that lead around the park, through the trees, and to a dog off-leash park and separate puppy park. These paths also connect several local communities with hectares of green space.

Playground Features:

  • Fort with Mini Climbing Wall and Rope Bridge
  • Cube Tower with Giant Tube Slide
  • Musical Bar Chimes
  • Rocker and Roundabout
  • Climbing Nets
  • Sports Field and Multi-purpose Sports Court
  • Gym Equipment
  • Bike and Walking Paths
  • Picnic Tables and Shelters

Tucker Family Park is perfect for those looking to immerse themselves in nature while enjoying a variety of activities. Whether it’s exploring the extensive playground, participating in sports, or simply taking a peaceful walk, this park has something for everyone.

Whiterock Adventure Playground and Splash Pad, Ripley Valley

Whiterock Adventure Playground and Splash Pad in Ripley Valley is quickly becoming a top summer destination. The standout feature is the intriguing “play curl” structure, accompanied by water play and natural exploration zones.

Upon entering the beautifully designed space, the first thing you’ll notice is the huge and uniquely shaped “play curl,” which looks more like a sculptural masterpiece than a playground. The Australian-first design is over 16 metres long and can accommodate up to 40 children at a time with its mixture of net climbs, rock climbing holds, rubber ramps, balancing ropes, and suspended resting areas. This area is best suited for children aged 5 to 12, though confident younger climbers can also enjoy it.

Directly across from the playground is a mostly shaded, zero-depth Splash ’n’ Play area. It features water fountains, movable wiggly sprayers, button-controlled jets, and waterfall arches. Smaller children can safely enjoy water play away from the larger splash zone. The area has a non-slip rubber base for safety and ample seating for supervision.

Rounding out the play space are other playground favourites, including an embankment slide, swings, a seesaw, educational games, and an accessible carousel. The parklands are also equipped with full picnic amenities, making it an excellent choice for birthday parties and family gatherings.

The “play curl” offers a foundation for imaginative play. Its abstract design creates a sense of mystery and encourages problem-solving. Running adjacent to the curl is a dry creek bed with cylindrical stepping stones, providing a nice contrast to the metal and steel of the playground and encouraging a nature-style play. The different ground textures, equipment heights, and water play combine to form a multi-sensory experience.

Whiterock Adventure Playground is located on even terrain with connecting paths, making it easy to navigate with prams. The ground-level carousel spinner is designed for inclusive play. Disabled toilets and a baby change room are available on site.

Additional Features:

  • Unfenced playground
  • Accessible toilets
  • Mostly covered by shade sails
  • Bark chip, rubber, stone bases
  • Swings, including toddler and birds nest swings
  • Natural play elements
  • Educational games
  • Steel slide
  • Seesaw
  • Wheelchair accessible carousel
  • Short bike and scooter track
  • Picnic shelters
  • Electric BBQs
  • Bench seating
  • Kick-around area
  • Ample on and off-street parking

Whiterock Adventure Playground is perfect for families seeking fun and adventure, with diverse activities for children of all ages.

Our Top Brisbane Playgrounds

City Botanic Gardens, Brisbane

A visit to the Botanical Gardens is a must when you’re in Brisbane, but have you been to the Brisbane City Botanic Gardens playground? This play space has been designed to host a range of sensory play, musical activities, imaginative and physical play.

There are climbing objects for little ones and tall musical chimes that can have two kids at any one time playing a melody. A circle of ten speaker tubes has been set up for children to listen and speak through, and to encourage social interaction. There’s also spinning hand objects, clear shapes to look through, and a sand play area with little diggers to sit and dig in the sand. This Brisbane playground features all the standard equipment, including multiple one and two-person see-saws and spinning seats, a four swing set, including one baby swing and one for all abilities.

Located nearby are public toilets, it is partially shaded but not fenced.

Our Top Ipswich Playgrounds

Faye Carr Park, Ripley

Check out Faye Carr Park in Ripley, a rocket ship-themed playground designed for the whole community.

The standout feature is the impressive trio of red and green pods, which have become a landmark of the Ecco Ripley development since its opening in 2018. These custom-designed pods by Playscape Creations are a first for Australia, offering sensory delights like cogs, steering equipment, and rainbow spinning wheels, all connected by a bridge. The exterior is just as engaging with ladders, slides, staircases, and fireman poles for endless fun.

For younger children, there’s a separate toddler playground complete with a mini slide, ladder, and puzzles. The area also includes a five-person swing circle, a rotating net climber, a see-saw, and a double-track flying fox for inclusive play.

Sports enthusiasts will enjoy the middle section of the park with multipurpose fields for soccer, rugby, and basketball, as well as an outdoor workout zone. Picnic shelters and BBQs make it perfect for a family outing.

 Over 20 developmental activities between the main and toddler playgrounds promote educational play in a fun outdoor setting. The park also emphasises social play with shared swing circles, rotating net climbers, and multi-track flying foxes, encouraging greater participation.

The parklands are wheelchair and pram friendly, with accessible pathways connecting all areas. The seated playground equipment, including an adaptive swing, see-saw, and net climber, are designed for inclusivity.

Faye Carr Park Features:

  • Accessible toilets
  • Unfenced
  • Baby change table facilities
  • Playground 50% covered by shade sails
  • Rubber, bark chip, and sand base
  • Adaptive swing with harness
  • Learn-to-ride track
  • Basketball court
  • Fitness equipment
  • Open kick-around area
  • Soccer/rugby field
  • BBQs
  • Picnic shelters
  • On-street parking

Orion Mega Playground, Springfield

 A multi-million dollar playground that is accessible and engaging for all ages is the incredible result of a consultation between locals and Orion Shopping Centre.

The main attraction is a vibrant activity centre with a tower reaching 11 metres high, accessible via internal ladders or a 16-metre Sky Walk bridge offering a birds-eye view of the playground below. Two enormous tunnel slides flank the tower, perfect for young thrill-seekers. Note that the play area is not fenced from the nearby car park, so close adult supervision is necessary.

For children who prefer to stay grounded, the playground features in-built trampolines, mountaineering ropes, and a large climbing net tunnel. A wheelchair-friendly merry-go-round promotes inclusive play.

The toddler area includes slides, stairs, a rock climbing wall, a fire pole, a colourful see-saw, and a cognitive play hut with educational activities. Swings are available for both independent children and those needing assistance. Most of the playground is covered by shade sails or roofing for sun protection.

Redbank Plains Recreation Reserve Playground, Redbank Plains

Located just 15 minutes from Ipswich city, the recently upgraded Redbank Plains Recreation Reserve has become a popular community hub for gathering, playing, socialising, and relaxing.

The central playground features a 9-metre tall adventure tower made of cargo netting, platforms, and ladders, offering a vertical thrill for older children. Climbers can choose between a speedy tunnel slide and a twisty tube slide. The roped exterior allows for easy parental supervision.

The reserve also boasts a 20-metre high ropes course, challenging balance, strength, and coordination, with opportunities for adults to assist younger climbers. Additional features include a giant rotating bird’s nest swing, a multi-bay swing set, and sensory spinners.

A dedicated toddler playground caters to ages one to five with accessible platforms, ground-level activities, gentle slides, and imaginative play areas. Essentials such as swings, see-saws, bouncers, and an inclusive carousel are built on a soft base with ample shade sails. Nearby seating is available for supervision and picnics.

The reserve also includes a newly renovated skate park, suitable for skaters of all levels, adjacent to a large grassy field ideal for soccer, cricket, or kite flying.

Our Top Brisbane Playgrounds

City Botanic Gardens, Brisbane

A visit to the Botanical Gardens is a must when you’re in Brisbane, but have you been to the Brisbane City Botanic Gardens playground? This play space has been designed to host a range of sensory play, musical activities, imaginative and physical play.

There are climbing objects for little ones and tall musical chimes that can have two kids at any one time playing a melody. A circle of ten speaker tubes has been set up for children to listen and speak through, and to encourage social interaction. There’s also spinning hand objects, clear shapes to look through, and a sand play area with little diggers to sit and dig in the sand. This Brisbane playground features all the standard equipment, including multiple one and two-person see-saws and spinning seats, a four swing set, including one baby swing and one for all abilities.

Located nearby are public toilets, it is partially shaded but not fenced.

Kalinga Park Playground, Clayfield

Kalinga Park Playground offers some fun timber forts, resembling trees houses, which are adorned with many opportunities to climb – nets, poles, bars, ladders, steps and a climbing wall. This Brisbane playground is suitable for children of all ages, with a separate structure, slide and swings designed for the younger children.

There’s a mini traffic track, adjacent to the playground, can be utilised to develop road safety awareness and riding skills.

The park also offers accessible toilet facilities, electric BBQs, picnic tables both sheltered and unsheltered, water fountains, walking and cycle paths and a fenced, off-leash dog area. Note the playground is not fenced.

Lower Moora Park, Shorncliffe

The Lower Moora Park seaside playground offers fantastic forts, slides and wooden carvings. Confident climbers will enjoy exploring the many levels of the playground

There is also a separate fort perfect for toddlers, which includes a slide and a place to express themselves musically via the instruments. Toddlers can also amuse themselves under the main playground in the play area underneath the fort or get busy in the sand area, where there is plenty of space for digging. They can also play on the colourful animal structures and spring rockers.

Note this park is near water and unfenced, but does offer shade sails and large trees, a variety of seating options surrounding the playground, water fountain, shaded picnic tables, BBQs, and accessible toilets.

Bray Farm Park, Griffin

Commonly known as the ‘Harry Potter’ park in Griffin, north of Brisbane, this destination blends art, culture, nature, and fun for the entire family.

Discover two whimsical ‘cottage style’ play structures, a climbing sphere, slides, swings, and charming bridges. With a magical forest backdrop, plenty of park benches, winding paths, and a large grassy area for games, this park is sure to be a fun day out for all!

Parents take note, there aren’t toilets, the park isn’t fenced and it’s close to a road, so keep an eye on your youngsters while they play!

Hidden World Playground, Fitzgibbon

Hidden World Playground is a wonderful north Brisbane playground with a series of interconnected rainbow-coloured ‘houses’ built on sand and is ideally suited to toddlers and preschoolers. Besides clambering through the houses, there are plenty of other fun activities including the sandpits surrounding, as well as an in-ground lawn maze.

Hidden World has a whole back story that you can find here!

The playground is not fenced, but it’s not close to the road. It offers accessible toilets including a baby change table
There are no shade sails over play equipment, but in the general area there are. There are water fountains, four shaded picnic areas and electric BBQs.

Rocks Riverside Park, Seventeen Mile Rocks

The popular Rocks Riverside Park offers a whole day of fun for families!

There are two playgrounds, each aimed at differing age groups. There is a giant fort aimed at bigger kids, with so many climbing and exploring options. The fort is mostly covered, so lots of shade, with additional shade sails nearby. There is also a flying fox, giant climbing net, swings, bike paths, exploration paths, and even a half basketball court. The playground for younger children is fully fenced with two smaller forts: a toddler fort and one for those slightly bigger kids. There’s also a sandpit is also within the fenced area, with a sand table and push-button water tap to help with the sand creations. Toddler swings, bouncers, and safari car seat all add to the fun to be had here.

This Brisbane playground also makes for a great summer stop, with a water play and splash zone. Children can play in the shallow water, run in and out of the fountains, relax in the man-made rock pools and more. There are multiple shade sails covering most of the water play area.

There are accessible toilet facilities, a soft-fall ground cover, BBQ and covered picnic areas.

Thrush Street Park, Inala

Thrush Street Park in Inala is a great suburban oasis that’s a must-visit for families in Brisbane! This park is fun for children of all ages, boasting an array of playful attractions. A standout feature is the misting forest, complete with interactive water sprayers, which is a crowd-pleaser during the warmer seasons.

Despite its compact size, Thrush Street Park’s playground is densely packed with engaging elements. Notable attractions include a sizable climbing structure with two thrilling slides, an extended flying fox, swings, and a merry-go-round, ensuring endless entertainment for little visitors.

The playground also houses an exciting water play area, highlighted by a hand-operated water pump that feeds into a creek leading towards the misting forest. Here, towering tree-like structures equipped with buttons unleash a refreshing shower from their branches, offering a delightful escape from the heat. It’s a good idea to bring along a change of clothes, swimwear, and towels, especially on hot days, to fully enjoy the water features. However, it’s important to note the absence of public toilets at the park, so plan your visit accordingly.

Accessibility is thoughtfully considered at Thrush Street Park. The merry-go-round is flush with the surrounding soft fall area, facilitating access for visitors with wheelchairs and other mobility devices. Additionally, interactive panels and musical features are conveniently located on this accessible surface. Wide concrete pathways meander through the playground, with one leading directly to the water play area and misting forest, both set over a sturdy concrete base.

Parking is available in an off-street lot with a gravel surface, but be prepared for a brief walk over uneven grass to reach the playground from the car park. Thrush Street Park is indeed packed with features that cater to a wide range of interests and needs, making it a fantastic destination for a family day out.

Colmslie Beach Reserve, Murarrie

Colmslie Beach Reserve, nestled along the Brisbane River, offers everything for a perfect day out. With attractions including flying foxes, slides, climbable large sculptures of sea creatures, interactive water play, and scenic picnic areas, plus a new scooter/bike track, it’s a haven for families.

This park is a paradise for children, featuring a playground with unique sculptures like a fish, octopus, crab, and submarine, designed to enhance gross motor skills. Interactive buttons activate water features for extra fun. The playground also offers a variety of activities including a dry creek bed for imaginative play, a balancing bridge, slides, a musical boat, and a flying fox.

The reserve is well-equipped for picnics and outdoor activities, with ample seating, connected pathways, and abundant shade. A highlight is the scooter/bike track complete with a maintenance pit stop, making it feel like a real road adventure with its speed bumps and road signs.

Accessible toilets are conveniently located within the playground area, which is semi-fenced for safety. The larger park area is open, inviting visitors to explore the boardwalk for stunning views of the Gateway Bridge and the Brisbane River.

Colmslie Beach Reserve encourages imaginative play, whether pretending to be a sea captain or a pirate. The playground’s design and facilities, including a partially fenced play area, accessible toilets, shaded play equipment, and ample green spaces, make it an ideal spot for family outings.

Wynnum Whale Park, Whynnum

Wynnum Whale Park is a hit with young families, featuring a unique whale pod water spray area on soft rubber matting to prevent slips. Children love climbing and jumping off water-spouting whale sculptures, with intermittent water bursts adding to the excitement. The area includes a large tipping bucket and a smaller water feature for younger children, ideal for leaf races along miniature streams.

Adjacent to this water play zone is a spacious nautical-themed playground, offering climbing structures, slides, swings, and imaginative play areas like a shop and boat. Situated near Wynnum Jetty and Pandanus Beach, it’s perfect for a calm beach day. The area also boasts bike paths and walkways along the waterfront, ideal for a family ride or stroll. Nearby fish and chip cafes provide convenient dining options.

There’s also the Wynnum Wading Pool nearby. The oceanic theme encourages imaginative play, with children pretending to be sea captains or pirates, while the anticipation of which whale will spray water next adds to the fun.

The park is accessible, with wheelchair-friendly toilets and shaded areas for setting up a day camp. Unsheltered water park sections, small gazebos, picnic tables, and well-maintained BBQs make it comfortable for families. Shops and cafes are easily reachable for refreshments, with convenient parking and public transport options nearby.

Wynnum Whale Park’s features include an unfenced playground with sand and rubber surfaces, accessible toilets, a wading pool, seasonal water play, ocean-themed play structures, climbing nets, slides, swings, and bike and walking paths. Sheltered picnic spots, BBQs, and the sight of soldier crabs at low tide enrich the visit.

Riverside Green Playground, Southbank

A visit to the Southbank isn’t complete (at least for children) without a stop to the Riverside Green Playground!

The two-level playground has an adventure zone up top, and the lower level features interactive equipment. The 7.5 metre high structure has sky cabin towers interconnected by a series of rope bridges and connecting slides.

For the smaller ones, there’s a dedicated toddler area on the upper terrace level with an all-inclusive area pirate ship-themed toddler zone with undercover areas, grasp holes, climbing ladders and ropes, slides, compass, binoculars, and interactive elements to touch and turn.

This park space also features climbing nets, slides, swings, and a giant hamster wheel!

The area, not enclosed, also features accessible toilets, including baby change table, shade sails, picnic tables, electric BBQs and water fountains.

Bradbury Park, Kedron

Check out the new and improved Bradbury Park, which received a $10m upgrade in 2023! There are comments about this park that it’s really like a ‘mini theme park’ and we can definitely see why!

It encourages adventure play with challenging towers and bridges to navigate and incorporates inspired nature play. It’s also great for keen climbers, as every surface at Bradbury Park has footholds and handgrips encouraging climbing. This playground is tailored more for children ages five and older, however, the little ones still might enjoy it with the help of a grown-up or an older sibling! Toddlers aren’t forgotten though, underneath there is a section just for little ones to explore, with a mini cliff climber and wide slide at the top of a soft fall mount.

Parents, just be warned due to its design, it might be hard to spot your child in the structure, and there is a certain amount of risk involved when playing at Bradbury Park.

The area includes picnic spots, BBQs, toilets, an impressive scooter track that includes several challenging obstacles. You’ll also find a basketball half-court and a fully fenced dog park.
The park is now equipped with all the other amenities that will keep families comfortable and entertained for hours on end. 🎉

Buxton Park, Yarrabilba

Buxton Park truly offers something for everyone! For children, there’s an 8.7-metre high tower featuring two enclosed slides set either side of an elaborate climbing web. The most unique feature is the large synthetic grass caterpillar which snakes its way around the playground precinct. Children will adore scaling the rises before rolling, running or jumping into the dips. There’s also in-ground trampolines, swings for all ages and abilities, horse bouncers and spinning poles round out the play equipment aimed at children. Grownups haven’t been left out of the design either! There’s an innovative outdoor gym featuring magnetic bells for strength training, a core twist, a bicycle, and more. The equipment even has an integrated training app to help you get the most out of a workout.

There are BBQs and a picnic area, but no public toilets.

New Farm Park Playground

Have you visited New Farm Park Playground? This enchanted forest playground in Brisbane, nestled in amongst Moreton Bay Fig trees, consists of an impressive fort-like tree-house with an expansive bridge walk that winds and promotes all kinds of imaginative play. It boasts:

  • climbing walls
  • meandering pathways
  • wobbly walkways
  • chain link bridges
  • swaying poles to
  • clamber across
  • slippery slides.

There’s also a separate playground for the littlest ones, as well as accessible play equipment. This outdoor gem is just a few minutes’ walk from the New Farm Park ferry terminal and the Powerhouse Museum. Onsite are accessible toilets, BBQs, walking and bike paths, water fountains, an onsite cafe for coffee and plenty of cafes nearby and free parking.

There you have it! We hope you enjoyed our list of the best playgrounds on the Gold Coast and in Redlands and Brisbane City. If you’re after the best childcare in the Gold Coast and Brisbane areas, look no further than Little Scholars, we’re sure to have a centre near you. Contact us or book a tour today to ensure your little one gets the best start to life that they can.

Do you have a playground you think should be here? Let us know on our socials @littlescholarsearlylearning!
*Images courtesy of Gold Coast, Redlands and Brisbane city councils, mrslardeedah.com, romethegnome.com, and kidsonthecoast.com.

Parental separation anxiety : what it is and how to deal with it

Elizabeth Stone, an award-winning essayist and journalist, once captured the essence of parenthood with a poignant quote, ‘Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.’ This statement resonates deeply with many parents, astutely capturing the feelings of boundless love and the inevitable vulnerability that comes with bringing a child into the world.

This overwhelming surge of emotion is particularly intense during those initial moments and first days of separation from your child, often experienced when that child is entrusted to the care of someone else for the first time. It’s a milestone filled with mixed emotions for parents – pride in their growing independence, yet a deep longing to keep them close forever.

While the focus in the first few weeks at early learning facilities is generally on the children and how they’re settling in, an often-forgotten topic is the separation anxiety parents also can feel when they drop their little ones in care for the first time.

In childcare, we offer families tips on how to help children settle in, from suggestions such as: ‘don’t sneak away’, ‘keep goodbyes short’, and ‘maintain calm and confidence’, but what if the child is just fine, but the parents are struggling from the separation?

It’s understandable. If you’re coming off maternity or paternity leave, or perhaps you’ve been the primary parent at home for the last few years, change can be profoundly hard.

Babybaby 225x300

What we’re talking about is parental separation anxiety, and it’s more common than you think.

“I experienced separation anxiety with both my children when I dropped them into care for the first time, but I was much more surprised with my feelings the second time around,” says Christina, a communications professional who has two children. “I had to go back to work much earlier the second time around, and I felt a lot of grief for not getting to continue to bond with my son the way I had been, knowing he was my last baby. I also experienced some fears around him attaching to his educators more than me.”

2016 study by Pacey UK (the professional association for childcare and early years) reported that out of 1,000 mothers, 70% of mums said they worried about the extent they would miss their children, 90% reported feeling anxious about returning to work after having a child, while nearly half of mums admitted being very anxious.

The signs of struggle in parents

How can parental separation anxiety manifest itself? Some of the more obvious signs are tears. Anxious feelings. Moodiness. While others you may not notice until they start affecting your life and mental health.

Here are some common indicators of more serious separation anxiety to be aware of:

  • Persistent worrying and imagining the worst-case scenarios
  • Elevated levels of anxiety or depression
  • Intense distress and experiencing panic attacks
  • Experiencing feelings of anger
  • Physical symptoms when apart from your child, such as headaches, nausea, or stomachaches
  • A constant desire to be aware of your child’s whereabouts at all time.

Reconciling anxious feelings

Ask yourself, what is your biggest fear or worry in separating from your child? The initial step in overcoming these feelings is to acknowledge and understand them. If you’re experiencing heightened anxiety about being apart from your child, it’s important to explore the origins of these feelings. Perhaps they stem from experiences in your life in  childhood, or birth trauma, the loss of pregnancy or another child, perinatal or postnatal anxiety/depression and existing anxiety issues, or it may simply be triggered by the act of becoming a parent.

“How does a parent reconcile these feelings of separating from their child? I think what’s important about that one is that often it’s around guilt,” says Sarah Bergman, a clinical psychotherapist at Counselling on the Coast who has more than three decades of experience in emotionally-focused therapy.

“Guilt is really an emotion that comes up when we have like an idealised sense of a situation or who we are. So we feel guilty when we don’t feel we’ve reached what we want to be reaching or we haven’t done what we want to do. I would say to explore those feelings of guilt, what they are, what you feel like you’re not doing for your child or getting right for your child.”

Sarah says those guilty feelings in parents often link back to situations in their own childhood where they felt like their own parents let them down. But the concern is also passing down those guilty or anxious feelings to your child.

“Their own wounds start to muddy the waters of the child’s experience. So the child’s just going to school, but then they feel their parents anxiety and then they also think that something’s wrong then too, which can make them anxious. So if the parents have a good look at themselves around, ‘what was it that my parents got wrong for me? or what was it that wounded me? and how does that now play across on my child?’ So the parents will often work hard to do the things that they don’t want that their children to experience themselves.”

While Sarah says often the guilty feelings stem from what they missed in their own childhood, the opposite could be true.

“Maybe [parents feel they’re] not meeting the ideals of what your parent did for you or what things that you really loved about your parent and now you feel like you’re not getting that right.”

Wherever the feelings stem from, Sarah says, parents may be trying to heal themselves through their relationship with their child. But, she says, a child doesn’t have those wounds. They don’t experience their parents in that same way that perhaps you did. So she surmises parents could be overcompensating for their own childhood pain.

Cute 1 300x300

“Those kind of parents are very anxious at feeling like they have to attend to everything with their children because they don’t ever want their children to feel the way that they did,” Sarah summarises.

Consider jotting down your feelings or discussing them with a sympathetic friend or even a colleague who could relate with what you’re currently experiencing. Regardless of how trivial or illogical they might seem, allowing yourself to express and discuss these fears can aid in releasing them.

Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.

Elizabeth Stone

Sarah also suggests parents educate themselves on secure attachment, a theory first proposed by the British psychologist, psychiatrist, and psychoanalyst John Bowlby. For children, secure attachment to someone like a mum or dad allows them the secure base necessary to explore, learn and relate, and the well-being, motivation, and opportunity to do so. It’s important for safety, stress regulation, adaptability, and resilience and ultimately can help produce a happy, healthy well-adjusted child.

If you are securely attached, you will feel less anxious because you will feel comfortable that you can trust, you have a positive view of other people and a positive view of self,” Sarah says. “So you think to yourself, ‘it’s okay. My child is in safe hands. They will let me know. I trust the daycare centre. And I trust myself that I’m doing the right thing by my child and it’s going to be okay and I need to go to work and this is just the way it is.’ Whereas someone who is more anxiously attached sometimes have a bit of a negative view of themself and possibly a bit of negative view of others so they don’t totally trust others, so it’s about trying to move into being more securely attached.”

She also says to have an honest conversation with educators or your campus manager.

“You know, that is actually good secure relating as well, that a parent can actually say, ‘I’m feeling a bit nervous’, or ‘I’m a bit worried about that,’ because they’re asking then, they’re not coping alone.”

Sarah recommends in that conversation, have a chat with educators or your campus manager about what might help to alleviate those anxious feelings, whether it’s a phone call or a text, a few extra pictures – whatever it is, having clear communication can help everyone.

“What helped me was an honest discussion with my son’s lead educator during a playdate. She asked me thoughtful questions about why I was having a hard time, asked how she could help alleviate those feelings for me, and was very mindful to update with lots of pictures, and even checked in on me at pick-up over the next few weeks. It was really helpful, and gave me feelings of trust in leaving my baby with her and her team,” Christina adds.

Those secure attachments we want children to have means we also want them to have bonds with others, such as loving educators.

A child who has had a secure attachment with her parent or another safe adult is more likely to be able to develop lasting successful relationships as an adult. In fact, a New York University study recently found positive, warm relationships between caregivers and children were associated with higher odds of attaining ideal heart health at multiple points across a 20-year span of adulthood, so developing these bonds is good for their health!

Part of early childhood training for educators is understand various child development theories such as attachment theory, so trust that your educators understand what secure attachments – both to parents and others children can trust – mean for children’s development and they work hard to ensure these bonds with your child.

Research has found our adult relationships are shaped by our early patterns of attachment and the ways we learn to deal with closeness and separation.

“Children are very attached to their parents and they love their parents very much. And that is who they want to be with. And if they create an attachment with someone else, that’s lovely. However, ultimately it’s important to keep in mind they will want to be with their parents,” Sarah says.

The pressure of parenting perfection

Sarah also says some of these feelings may be pressure we put on ourselves as parents.

“We don’t actually have to be perfect parents and I think a lot of people are really trying to be perfect parents and wrapping their children in bubble wrap. You just have to be good enough. I think from memory it’s only like around 60 or 70 per cent strike rate of meeting the child’s needs.”

Sarah is referring to the Winnicott theory.

“The good-enough mother is one who makes active adaptation to the infant’s needs, an active adaptation that gradually lessens, according to the infant’s growing ability to account for failure of adaptation and to tolerate the results of frustration.” – D. W. Winnicott, paediatrician and parent-infant therapist.

“We all have to learn that sometimes our needs aren’t going to be met. And that’s actually where we build resilience and we build understanding around that other people have things they need to do as well,” Sarah says. “You don’t have to drop everything to be there for your kids. It’s okay to have ruptures with your children. It’s actually okay because that is a realistic expectation on relationships. We all have ruptures and then we get to learn how to repair those ruptures. But of course, if the child’s fallen over or they’ve hurt themselves or they’re scared at night, you want your strike rate on those things needs to be closer to 100 per cent.

“But otherwise, we don’t have to be so hard on ourselves, we can get it wrong sometimes. We just go back and say, ‘Hey, I’m sorry I got that wrong.’ And then the child also learns that they’re going to get things wrong sometimes, too. They can come to their parent and say, ‘Hey, Mum, sorry about that.’”

If we can offer some advice, it’s what we also suggest to parents when children are having a hard time with separating. Find an activity you can do together outside of care hours that you can look forward to, so you can cherish your time together. Maybe after pick-up, you take your child for a walk or to the park, maybe it’s grabbing a sneaky ice cream after dinner, maybe it’s a game night or story time when you get home. Find ways to really connect with your child in the time you’re together may make the time you’re apart easier to deal with.

Sarah says mindful activities can help in easing anxious feelings. But, she says, if these feelings are taking over, it might be worth talking to a professional as soon as possible. You can talk to your GP about a referral to see a psychologist, or you can book in to a specialist practice such as Sarah’s Counselling on the Coast to have a chat with a psychotherapist.

Please remember, if Little Scholars can help in any way, we will, from offering a listening ear, to phone calls to whatever would help your family, we will. We’re not just here for children, we’re here for the whole family.

Food ideas to get the approval and acceptance of your little food critic

We’re sure approximately 96.3 per cent of parents deal with a child who, let’s say, is choosey about what they want to eat. So choosey, in fact, they may choose to eat almost nothing you put in front of them. The amount of stress that puts on parents can be surprisingly strong. After all, as adults, we eat what we want, we understand benefits and consequences of what we put in our bodies, we understand when we’re famished and when we’re just not that hungry. But for some reason, when it comes to the little humans we’ve created, their diet can become a massive focus of parenting-what-did-we-do-wrong. You want so badly to make all the right decisions in parenting, to ensure your child is well-fed from a variety of nutritious sources so they can grow to be the healthiest, best version of themselves.

So how do we handle this picky phase – (though the term phase suggests it’s a short period of time when in fact it can be years or even a lifetime of challenging food preferences)?

We brought the village together and came up with some suggestions to ease the stress mealtime puts on everyone.

Eat1 768x768
  1. Serve veggies first. Offering vegetables before bringing out the rest of the food can be a way to get children to scarf nutrients up before filling up on pasta and bread. For example, in Italian culture, it’s common to serve four courses, the antipasti which might include cold grilled vegetables, cured meats, etc, the primi, or first course, is where starch-based meals come into play, the secondi, or main course, is normally a protein-based dish such as fish, meat, poultry or eggs, and the cortorni, or side dishes, which are usually vegetables or even salad that accompany the second course. What we like about this is that a person’s hunger is slowly reduced, which could be a neat way to adapt into your family’s meal, Italian or not!
  2. Drizzle the veggies with salted butter. Butter makes veggies yummy and the fat helps little bodies absorb many nutrients better!
  3. A fun buffet! Enter, the chicken nugget bar. So yes, there’s chicken nuggets to guarantee your child will eat something, but offer a range of healthier dips for them to try that will add nutrients to their growing bodies. Think greek yogurt, hummus, beetroot dip or more. Bonus points if you can make vegetable nuggets and get them to eat those along with the dips. Speaking of dips, don’t nix dips, yes some of them may have ingredients you might question, but if said dips get your children to eat vegetables, why not give it a try? With homemade dips, you can also control the sugar or salt in them.
  4. Make it a game! Get your child to close his or her eyes and guess the colour of the food they’re about to taste. American radio producer Hillary Frank said this is the way she got her children to eat capsicum.
  5. Taste the rainbow. Form different coloured foods into a rainbow onto the plate, or try a drop of food colouring if you think they might be adventurous!
  6. A tried and often true classic is to sneak veggies in other foods – blended into pasta sauces, baked into muffins, pancakes, smoothies, etc.
  7. Ensure children are actually hungry. Additionally, offering a smaller main dish, such as a small portion of mac ‘n’ cheese, encourages them to consume more of their side dish, like garlic broccoli, as their hunger persists. This approach is both common sense and scientific evidence.
  8. Talk about how veggies make your body strong–and then after dinner have a jumping/running/skipping/whatever contest. It’s amazing how much higher you can jump after you eat all your broccoli (wink, wink)!
  9. Include food discovery outside of meal time. One UK study investigated the impact of a non-taste sensory activity program in a nursery school setting, involving children aged 12 to 36 months. Children in the intervention group engaged in activities focusing on looking, listening, feeling, and smelling unusual fruits and vegetables every day for four weeks. The results showed that these children were more inclined to touch and taste the vegetables they had been familiarised with during playtime activities, compared to a control group that did not participate in such activities.
  10. “We also turn eating into a game,” says educator Kristen from our ____ campus. “Using utensils as characters that make funny sounds (our class favourite is the ‘forklift’). Playing these storytelling games during meals not only enriches our caregiving but takes the pressure off the child.”
  11. Use a veggie discovery chart! Studies show that it can take a child anywhere between 7 to 20 exposures to a certain ingredient before they start to feel familiar with that food, so by putting stickers every time they are exposed to a vegetable on this list, that helps their exposure. If they didn’t like it, they can put a red sticker; if they liked it so-so, they get to put a yellow sticker; and if they loved it, they get to put a green sticker. The loves can help parents put successful meals together! You can find a veggie discovery chart here.
  12. Roast vegetables with something sweeter. Children have more taste buds and a sharper sense of taste than adults, which may explain why they often find the slight bitterness in many vegetables more pronounced. Our evolutionary instincts to avoid bitter flavours, once a protection against poisonous substances, can make it challenging for little ones to appreciate these tastes. However, vegetables are incredibly beneficial and can act as a form of preventative medicine. To make veggies more appealing to children, try adding a bit of brown sugar or maple syrup to roasted vegetables. Other tasty additions could include a vinaigrette, yogurt, butter, lemon juice, or tomato sauce making the vegetables more palatable and encouraging children to try new foods.
  13. Some parents have great success with making a little plate of veggies and serve as an “appetizer” while parents finish preparing dinner. Children are usually hungry and need a distraction. This way they fill their tummies first with healthy foods. Or be playful about it and ask the children to watch the plate, but under no circumstance are they to have any. And if they take one, be dramatic with your ‘NO NO THOSE ARE MINE ONLY’ response, which will probably result in giggles and more ‘sneaking’!
  14. Healthy breakfast pancakes! Who says vegetables have to be for lunch and dinner? Check out this recipe.
  15. Reduce snacks or morning/afternoon teas. Part of the culprit might be your child is already full for the day by the time they get to dinner, so they’re selective in what they’ll eat on their plate because they’re just not very hungry.
  16. “When my cousins and I were children, our parents would try to get us to eat broccoli, they would say they were ‘little trees’ and we would all pretend we were giraffes to eat the broccoli. It worked!” Jell, social media and marketing specialist.
  17. Why stick to traditional cutlery? Try letting your child skewer bite-sized food on toothpicks or using chopsticks. Your child might have a lot of fun and actually eat the veggies, meat or whatever they don’t normally try.
  18. Re-Package, Re-Spin, Re-Brand. Think of yourself as the mastermind behind a food marketing campaign, where your toughest critics are pint-sized food connoisseurs. To make a food they’re not keen on seem more appealing, give it a humorous twist. For example, if carrots are a no-go, try calling them ‘X-Ray Vision Sticks’, suggesting they’re the secret behind superheroes’ sharp eyesight. The idea is to weave a bit of storytelling and humour into meals, transforming mundane foods into characters of a whimsical, edible tale
Hummus Lion Veggie Tray 8555 2 800x533 1

19. If you have the creativity and the time, present the food into characters, scenes or animals your child likes. Search for ideas on Pinterest or Instagram!

20. Don’t answer the question ‘what’s for dinner’. Come up with a silly answer such as “bugs and onions”, or something obvious ‘food’, but don’t give them time to dread dinner.

21. In Piaget’s developmental stages, there’s a phase known as the preoperational stage, where a child’s understanding of conservation is still developing. For example, if you pour juice from a short, wide glass into a tall, narrow one, they might believe the tall glass contains more juice because it looks “bigger,” even when they see the pouring happen. This concept can be cleverly applied to serving vegetables to children. By arranging the veggies closer together, they seem “smaller” to the child, giving the impression that they’re eating less. Conversely, spreading out items like chicken nuggets can create the illusion of a larger portion, making mealtime a bit more appealing to them

22. Everyone at the table eats the same meal, but try to include one item everyone likes. No alternatives, or if you have to, make the alternative something like veggie sticks and hummus. Eating together as a family is also a great way to bond and create lasting memories.

23. The one-bite rule: say something like, “Remember the time you didn’t think you’d like cherries, but you did? Let’s try this sweet potato now, because you might like it. Once you try it you can say, “No thank you!” but you have to at least try it! Then that food is no thank you food.”

24. The ‘silver bowl snack’ to expand their palate, one tiny taste at a time. If your child doesn’t like something, say something like, “well your tastebuds must not be grown up enough for that yet, let’s see what happens next time you try it.” Since children often want to be more “grown up” they may willingly try the offending food again the next time it was offered. If the child decides to try it, make a big deal about how grown up your child is getting.

25. Keep pre-cut vegetables and fruits in a bowl or clear Tupperware container, front and centre in the fridge and — important — then place some on a platter on the kitchen counter in your child’s line of vision all afternoon.

26. Do your children like mashed potatoes? Get more veggies in there! If the mashed potatoes turn green? Well, they’re Hulk potatoes obviously. Are they orange? Then they’re Nemo or insert-your-child’s-favourite-orange-character-here.

27. “We get our children to pick a meal they want to eat for dinner for the week and we buy the ingredients then they all get a night to cook dinner for us, makes them interested in wanting to eat the meal they make for us, and they need to choose something with a minimum of two veggies.” Jess, enrolments officer.

28. Sprinkles also go a long way. Yes, actual sprinkles, or foods that they can shake on like sprinkles. Think seasonings, herbs and chia seeds. If a child doesn’t like the food presented, ask what you can add to make it more exciting. And let them do the sprinkling. Sometimes, it really is as simple as that.

29. While it’s easy to use a smartphone or TV to occupy your child’s attention and you might even see your child mindlessly eat, that’s actually not what you want. You want children to be focused on the food, but also focused on family time and conversation.

30. Relax! Try not to put pressure on them to eat. You wouldn’t want someone constantly commenting on your plate choices and habits. Mel, operations manager of Little Scholars, said her son has been picky since he was two years old. When she spoke to a nutritionist, she said “as long as he was eating 20-25 different foods throughout the week he would be OK.” While it can feel stressful, your child is likely getting the nutrients they need, whether you’re offering fresh, frozen, tinned foods, you’re trying your best, your child is flourishing, and one day, this will just be a memory!

As advocates for early childhood development, we understand the significance of outdoor play in fostering a child’s physical and cognitive growth. If you’re seeking vibrant spaces that not only get your children moving but also spark their enthusiasm for the great outdoors, look no further. We’ve curated a list of what we consider the Gold Coast’s best playgrounds.

These playgrounds are dynamic environments that challenge and engage young minds. Our selection is based on our expertise in early childhood education, ensuring that each playground provides a rich range of experiences to stimulate curiosity and physical activity.

From sprawling play structures to interactive nature-based zones, these spaces are designed to encourage exploration and play.

Southern Gold Coast

Pirate Park Palm Beach

Pirate Park 2 E1663213861665

The beloved Pirate Park got a facelift in 2022 to the tune of $1.4M and the new and improved play space is impressive!

The sand-filled playground offers something for small and bigger children, including:

  • Climbing nets and ropes
  • Suspension bridge
  • Telescopes, cannons, interactive panels
  • Imaginary play elements
  • 7-metre-high crow’s nest towers
  • 8-metre-long tunnel slide
  • Swings
  • Flying fox
  • Spinning globe
  • Large basket swing
  • Row boats with talk tubes
  • Caves
  • Hammock
  • Sensory play elements

Parents can grab food or a beverage at the nearby Dune Cafe, and located right next to the playground are public toilets and showers if a dip in the ocean is needed after the sandy fun!

Schuster Park Tallebudgera

Schuster Park 3 1000x1000

Don’t let your little adventurers miss out on the excitement at Schuster Park adventure playground! Ideal for children aged 4 and above, this playground is a climber’s haven featuring two towering slides off the main structure. Nature paths wind through the park, offering balance beams, jumping posts, sand paths with drums, musical flowers, and stepping stones for endless exploration.

Need to cool off? Enjoy a small beach area within reach. And if you’re planning a family BBQ, you’re in luck – there are two BBQs conveniently located next to the playground, along with a nearby toilet block. Schuster Park is the perfect destination for a day of outdoor fun and play.

Laguna Park Palm Beach

Laguna Playground Palm Beach 5 1 1024x768 1

The Laguna Park playground in Palm Beach is a great playground for ages 2+, check out the huge adventure playground, pirate ship, slides and rockers, a pedal power monorail, funny faces interactive boards and more. The entire playground is fenced, which is great for the little ones, and it also includes a Liberty Swing for kids in wheelchairs. Much of the playground is shaded by sails, and there are toilets nearby. The playground is surrounded by a lovely lake and a walking trail. A great bonus is that Laguna Park is steps away from Third Base coffee! 

Bill Thomson Park Elanora

Bill Thompson 20221203 082602 01

Bill Thomson Park in Elanora is an medieval-themed playground completed in 2022 that has really brought the neighbourhood together like never before!

There are turrets and bridges connecting the playground together to create one large castle. A large flying fox runs along the lakeside of the playground, there are internal and external slides, a great swing set and plenty of imaginative play opportunities. This playground is more aimed at slightly older children, but agile toddlers can get around most of it as well.

In the same area, you will find basketball court, picnic shelter great for birthday parties and public toilets. Located a short walk around the lake is The Pines Shopping Centre, so you can grab everything you need for a picnic or just a coffee.

This playground has some open areas off the ground, is not fenced and steps away from the lake, so adult supervision is a must.

Frascott Park Varsity Lakes

Frascott Park Thumbnail 1024x683

Frascott Park has two playgrounds! Accessed via Yodelay Street or Mattocks Road, the most popular section of the park is the Mattocks Road entrance safari-themed playground.

Here you’ll find two play structures, one for the bigger kids and one for the toddlers. A huge slide and flying fox are keen favourites, while little ones will love driving the safari jeep. The second playground is located by Yodelay Street and is well suited for younger children. There is lots of natural shade, and easy climbing opportunities on the playground. The playground includes bridges, a slide, merry-go-round, swing set and spider net.

There’s also opportunities for parents to get some physical activity in! Fitness stations are scattered along the pathway. A large kick and play field with one goal post, perfect for a friendly game of footy, rugby or soccer. Also, a basketball court with hoops and backboard.

Toilets are available onsite near the Yodelay Street entrance.

Ronnie Long Park Tallebudgera

Ronnie Long Playground Tallebudgera4 1024x768 1

The Ronnie Long Park is a great set of two playgrounds between the Tallebudgera Surf Club and the beach. With one playground suited toward slightly bigger children, it’s partially fenced, has a big climbing tower, large nest swing, spinning frame, and rockers. This area is shaded and has a rubber floor, while the second playground is more suited to toddlers. There’s a slide, two swings and a plane to climb in and on. This area is also shaded with a sand floor. Behind the playground is the surf club’s cafe for parents. There are toilets and BBQs nearby. Just be aware the playgrounds are steps away from Tallebudgera Creek, parking can be a challenge on nice days.

Deodar Park Burleigh Waters

Deodar Park Playground 2 1024x683

Deodar Park is home to a total of seven slides, including a mega slide (which of course means mega fun!). Partly covered by shade sails, this small but mighty playground has elements suitable for a range of ages. Here you will find climbing opportunities, a flying fox, interactive panels, swings, a seesaw, balance rope and tunnels.

Alongside the playground is a fenced BMX pump track, suited to confident young riders. There is also a concrete basketball court and a large grassed area that allows for dogs off-leash.

There’s also a drinking fountain, picnic shelter, picnic tables. Note, there aren’t toilets located near the playground.

Broadwater Parklands Southport

Play Attraction 1024x628

The Broadwater Parklands playground is one of the most beloved play areas on the Gold Coast with several fun areas for children to explore, and recently got a $5M upgrade with a new spiral tower over four levels, with interactive play equipment like a glockenspiel, binoculars, telescopes, suspended nets, rope tunnels and an enclosed slide.

There’s also a water and sand play area with carved sandstone, bronze sea animals, water pumps, mini weirs and water gates, an elevated sand table designed as a ‘fish and chip shop’ that can accommodate wheelchairs

Play equipment including play panels, swings, slides, trampolines, diggers, stepping stones, balance beams, a carousel, climbing walls, and climbing nets

And that’s just the upgrades. Further down the park, there’s also the huge fenced bouncy pillow, as well as a popular monorail track that circles the perimeter of the playground. There’s also a zip line that runs along one side. There is also an unsheltered sand-based playground with swings, slides, and climbing equipment. A jumping pillow, seesaws, and other bouncing play equipment provide lots of play opportunities for kids of all ages.

The Rockpools water play is a sculptural water playground. The water play area is designed with cool water fountains and vibrant marine-themed equipment. It includes a creek bed and several tidal rock pools for children to splash in and explore.

The playground features a liberty swing for all abilities. There are four electric BBQs near the main playground area, and several covered table areas near the main playground, plus shady trees and umbrellas in random places on the large lawn area closest to the café. There are several toilet blocks throughout the park, including accessible toilets. There’s lots of paid parking, but know it’s well-patrolled by Gold Coast City Council.

Holly Brooke Carter Playground Ashmore

359782283 768722481921870 6238871760850043392 N 1024x683

Do you have a dinosaur lover in your family? Then Holly Brooke Carter playground is the place to be! Located in Ashmore, the playground caters for a range of ages, with both a big and small playground at Bob Huth Park. The big playground is 3-storeys high and has two slides, and there’s a fun swinging bridge for children to climb across and plenty of high climbing opportunities too. The small playground has steps that toddlers can crawl or climb up without fear of falling off. There is also a small slide to tackle, and a few interactive panels.

Other elements in the playground include the infamous dinosaur, which survived recent renovations to the playground, to climb, a see saw and a dinosaur rocker, swings and a spinning swing too. The playground is mostly covered by shade sails, and the parkland has plenty of open green spaces with shade trees. There are picnic shelters, but no toilets or BBQs.

Bonus Bella's Wonderland Indoor playground Southport

Screenshot 2024 01 11 153542

Bella’s Wonderland stands as the Gold Coast’s largest play centre, offering an unparalleled experience for kids. Redefining the concept of a play centre, it features beautifully designed spaces with quality toys, sparking imaginative adventures. From an organic market and kitchens to an ice cream shop, dress-up boutique, Lego room, miniature cars, library, chill-out room, and a giant sandpit, every corner is bursting with excitement. The venue impresses with its sheer size, constantly unveiling new rooms filled with fun surprises.

The attention to detail is impeccable, earning it a resounding ‘wow’ from visitors. Additional attractions like a train ride and carousel, along with a delightful onsite cafe serving fresh and tasty treats, enhance the overall experience. Entry options include a 2-hour session or all-day play, with bundles available for multiple tickets. Online booking is recommended, although walk-ins may be accommodated based on availability (not guaranteed).

Northern Gold Coast

Emerald Lakes Parklands Carrara

Emeraldlakes2

Check out Emerald Lakes in Carrara! The play structure revolves around a central ramp, making it accessible for everyone! Children can climb, explore, and slide their way through the play area, with additional slides, climbing webs, interactive panels, swings, a spinner, and a see-saw for endless fun.

Safety is a top priority, as the playground is fully fenced with only one entry and exit point. Shade sails and trees offer protection from the sun, ensuring a comfortable play experience. While heavy rains can make the surrounding parklands wet, the elevated design of the playground keeps it dry.

Conveniently located within walking distance to the French Quarter, it’s the perfect spot to play while parents enjoy a cup of coffee. Please note, there are no toilets or picnic facilities. Off street parking available. There is a bike path and walking track around the lake.

Bim’bimba Park Pimpama

Bimbimba 20211212 062731

The Bim’bimba playground is an award-winning park with a large outdoor amphitheatre, toddler play space, playground, teen hangout, and basketball court, which are all connected by a series of entwining paths perfect for bike and scooter riding. There’s also the metal music gong, the animal sculptures, and a spinning wheel. Everything is spread out at this park, with lots of little spaces for different types of play. The park really encourages exploration and the use of imagination.

It’s a climbing-focused park, so better suited to children ages 4+. There is a toddler area separate to the big structures.

The park is partially shaded by shade sails. There are also toilets and baby change facilities, as well as picnic shelters and BBQs on site and onsite parking for 50 cars, otherwise street parking available.

Eagle Tree Park Coomera Foreshore

Eagle Tree 6 700x525 1

Eagle Tree Park at Foreshore Coomera is one of the newest on the Northern Gold Coast. It’s packed with areas for imaginative play and sensory play, as well as more traditional play equipment. It comfortably caters for all ages, and provides a range of experiences for all ability levels.

Based around a central ‘birds nest’ structure, the playground includes a standalone toddler play space, small basketball court and swing set. There are heaps of flat pathways for bike and scooter riding, a picnic shelter with BBQ and a toilet block.

This playground is perfect for those who love to climb! There are platforms to reach, bridges to cross and huge slides to come down again. Little ones are not forgotten, with a space that has a sandpit with hidden shells and diggers and a playhouse with interactive game and music features. There’s also a number of small slides across the park.

The bike paths allow you to link up with the Foreshore Jetty Park, which incorporates a launch pontoon for kayaks and a riverside setting for family get-togethers and barbecues.

On-site there are BBQs, toilets, and a water fountain. The area is accessible for prams, wheelchairs, bikes and scooters.

Buckler Park The Surrounds Helensvale

Screenshot 2024 01 11 151829

The Surrounds at Helensvale boasts an innovative playground designed to provide children with an exciting tactile and sensory adventure, offering numerous play elements and the chance to safely take on challenges that stimulate both their bodies and minds. The highlight for older kids is a large, double climbing cube-type structure, featuring slides accessed through various climbing points. The unique challenge lies in the absence of platforms or stairs attached to the slides, requiring access via rope nets. This feature may not suit little ones or those averse to climbing, but alternative delights include trampolines, a rope swing, and a flying fox!

For younger children or those less inclined to climb, a smaller playground awaits with a couple of slides, stairs, a ride-on jeep, and a see-saw. And for those seeking messy play, the playground offers a sand and water play area sure to captivate children for ages.

Ideal for hosting birthday parties, the playground includes a spacious picnic table shelter complete with BBQs, tables, and bench seats. The addition of shade sails addresses the heat factor, with early morning or late afternoon visits recommended to avoid the peak temperatures. Conveniently, a nearby community centre houses a cafe and toilet facilities, making it a dream location for every parent.

Parklake Park Maudsland

Photo Parklake Park Maudsland Pin

The Parklake Park playground is a child’s dream! It has six different playground play spaces and a large park to explore, with a giant brightly-coloured two-level treehouse fort with two slides, several sets of swings including a nest swing, rockers, and see-saws, flying fox, suspended rope bridge, a play car, climbing dome turtle and drums!

There’s also shade sails or large established trees that provide shade over the majority of playground play space, a large sporting field, wide walking paths, one gazebo and several BBQ picnic shelters scattered throughout park, a basketball court, on-site public toilets and an off-street carpark.

Gibirrngaan Park (Black Snake Park) Maudsland

Blacksnakepark2

Gibirrngaan Park/Cloverside Park is a unique one! It’s a nature-inspired playground centred around a huge black snake statue. There is play equipment for both young and old with a toddler cubby and slide, as well as a giant rope-climbing tower and enclosed slide for the bigger children. There’s even a fun sandbox to dig for dinosaur fossils!

Children can balance along the giant red bellied black snake, dig for dinosaur fossils or explore the playhouse. Climb the net to the wooden birds nest for views across the park, and then race down the mega slide! Little explorers will love the dry creek bed and giant snake eggs.

If all of this isn’t enough to keep little ones happy, the bike race track is sure to please. Partially fenced, this race track has twists, turns and hills. The park has plenty of seating and two covered picnic shelters.

There are no toilets or cafes nearby so be prepared, but there are several shaded picnic tables for snack breaks.

Lion's Park Helensvale

313410838 8314688101938266 5638009187753286862 N

Lion’s Park at Helensvale is a huge playground that caters for everyone, especially the climbers, as the only way to the fort is by climbing nets!

The main fort is pirate-themed and features a lookout, a large fort, net bridges, monkey bars, a mega slide, a parkour gym and heaps more!
For toddlers and little ones, there is a smaller playground featuring a mini fort, slide, rocker, see-saw and stepping stones.

Within close proximity are:

  • Barbecues
  • Toilets including an accessible toilet
  • Drinking fountain
  • Picnic shelter
  • Picnic tables

Celadon Park Helensvale Surrounds

206655955 185397040260127 5935235155820946825 N 1000x1000

Celadon Park is located in the Helensvale Surrounds estate. This is a great play space for 0-5 year olds with its to the endless opportunities for imaginative play! This playground doesn’t feature any of your traditional play equipment pieces and allows for creative play!

The playground is surrounded by an interactive bike track designed to help children of all ages learn how to ride a bike. It has traffic signs, a petrol station for refueling, a fire station for imaginative play and a small pump track component for the children looking for a challenge, do not forget to bring the bikes or scooters on this visit!

The playground is shade-sail covered, but the bike track is not. Note there aren’t toilet facilities or BBQs. Picnic tables, rubbish bins and a water fountain are available.

Country Paradise Parklands Nerang

Country Playground Park Gold Coast Nature Play Adventure21

The centrepiece of the adventure playground at the Country Paradise Parklands is the 11.5m windmill with mega slide, accessed via a water-tank tunnel and swing bridge. Wrapping around the entire playground space is a creek bed with water play elements. There are toddler and pre-schooler play spaces, as well as the central playground for everyone to enjoy. The water play area features water pumps, troughs and ramps, encouraging the kids to build natural channels for the water to flow.

This area includes BBQs, toilets including accessible ones, a drinking fountain, picnic shelter and picnic tables.

Just beware, we’ve heard magpies can get nasty during mating season.

The Backyard Coomera Westfield

The Backyard 1 1024x439

An unexpected gem at a shopping centre! The Backyard at Coomera Westfield offers a lot for children of all ages!

There’s an age one – four years play zone: a ‘fallen log’ immersive sensory zone entertaining children with tactile, auditory and visual experiences. The fallen log includes cubby and hiding spaces, sound tubes, a playful tunnel experience and slippery slide.

Then there’s an ages four – eight years play zone: a fun-filled obstacle course providing imaginative and adventure play. The space includes numerous balance and climbing experiences, trampolines, swings and a spiral slide.

The real highlight of The Backyard, particularly on hot summer days, is the water play area, which features ankle to knee-deep water, children can pump the water pumps, dodge squirting frogs, spin water wheels and explore the winding streams of water. The Backyard features big shade sails and grassy banks, and has deck chairs for the adults. There are change rooms are right beside the water area, plus toilets and BBQs. The Backyard is also conveniently located right next to the shopping centre’s fresh food Marketplace!

Green Grove Park Pimpama

Forestgreenpark1

Green Grove Park in Gainsborough Greens (Pimpama) isn’t the biggest playground in the area, but the playground’s interpretive and educational play experience is why it received an Award of Excellence – Play Spaces at the 2019 Queensland Landscape Architecture Awards in recognition of the playground’s elements of exploration, discovery, role play, balance, climbing, storytelling, exhilaration, and social interaction.

Children will enjoy this award-winning adventure playground with its eight-metre-high hill slide, timber log play forts, sandstone block stair climb, and sand play at the base. The playground also includes a reclaimed fallen tree for climbing over as well as big sandstone boulders and climbing structures. The area is connected by pathways and dry creek beds.

Note, there are no toilet or BBQ facilities available.

Hilltop Park Ormeau

Hilltop 20211213 144711 01

An oldie but a goodie! Hilltop Park is split into two sections, you’ll find a shady toddler play area with a car, climbing frame and mini playground with slide and swing in one area.

The main playground space is better suited for bigger children, with a larger playground and slide, large climbing net, balance beams, spinners and a swing set. Little ones can also climb the ramp up to the old water tower, which has been converted into a play structure.

Toilets, a BBQ , water bubbler and picnic shelter are right beside the playground, with additional shady seating all through the park.

Check out our guide to all the best playgrounds across South East Queensland! Read:

Best playgrounds in South East Queensland

For anyone who’s ever tried to learn a new language, you can probably attest to the fact it’s challenging. You think in one language and translate into another. There are new tenses, jargon, sentence structures, plurals versus singular words, never mind having the muscular movement necessary to form words with your mouth, the confidence to speak – we could go on and on. Now imagine what it could be like for a baby or small toddler?

There are benefits of course for children learning their mother tongue, or even a second language compared to adults learning language. According to German researchers, the melody of newborn babies’ cries is shaped by the sounds of their native language, which they hear in utero. Babies even babble in their first language. Wait, what? Meaning, from a very young age, they start copying the sounds and rhythms of the language they hear around them. This means they begin to use the same ups and downs in their voice (intonation) and the same timing as the language spoken at home. Plus, when babies babble, they often use the most common sounds (like consonants and vowels) from their family’s language. As babies continue to develop, their babbling starts to sound more like conversation, referred to as jargon, with a rhythm and tone resembling adult speech.

Fascinating, isn’t it?

So, how can you help your baby learn to speak? First, remember babies all develop at different ages and stages, so while some of their peers may be speaking, others may be more focused on movement, fine motor skills or something completely different.

How do babies learn to talk?

Babies learn to communicate by listening to the people around them, especially their parents. They will:

  • listen to people talk
  • watch facial expressions

Chatting with your baby is important, and it’s even better when it’s just the two of you. When it’s just parent and baby, without other adults or children around, baby talk can really work its magic. And when your little one tries to chat back, give them your full attention – it shows them you’re interested in what they have to say, and they’ll be encouraged to keep going.

It’s important to note that too much screen time isn’t great for babies’ language development. Australian and international guidelines suggest that children under two should ideally have no screen time, except maybe for a bit of video chatting. After all, your baby will find you way more interesting than any screen!

It’s great to use that sing-song baby talk voice, as babies love it. But don’t forget to mix in some regular, adult conversation too. Hearing how words are used in everyday talk is a big part of how your baby learns language.

Speech development milestones

Learning through play

You might know by now that it’s Little Scholars philosophy that children learn best through play. So with that in mind, we had some ideas about how you can play with your baby and help him or her learn to speak at the same time.

  • Talk about everyday stuff – As you go about your day, chat with your baby about anything and everything – like explaining why Daddy’s vacuuming or what you’re cooking for dinner. It might seem simple, but it’s a big deal for their language learning!
  • Eye to eye – speak to them at their eye level so they can see your mouth move, which will help them sound words by copying you
  • Echo and expand – When your baby tries to say words, repeat them back. If they say “mama”, you say “mama” too! And if they say something like “train”, add a little more, like “Yes, a big red train!”
  • Engage with their babble – Show your baby you’re interested in what they have to say. Make eye contact, smile a lot, and be all ears when they babble away.
  • Talk about their interests – If your baby shows interest in something, like a toy train, join in with related words or sounds – “Toot, toot” for the train!
  • Walk and talk – Walk them around the house, yard or neighbourhood and point out different things they’re seeing. It’s also a great sensory experience.
  • Story and song time – Reading stories and singing songs or nursery rhymes together is not just fun, it’s also great for language development. The 3A Abecedarian Approach, the reading approach we use in our campuses, helps children learn to speak through conversational reading. City of Gold Coast libraries and Brisbane Libraries also have story time and baby rhyme time group activities, which is great for socialising as well.
  • Cheer them on – When your baby tries to talk or points at something, like a dog, and tries to name it, give them a big cheer – “Great job spotting the dog, Charlie!”
321033696 1143259023012767 2688464734727877159 N (1)

Supporting language development at Little Scholars

Sasha is a lead educator in one of the toddler studios at Little Scholars Burleigh. She says the Abecedarian Approach is one of her favourite tactics for supporting language development, especially when she’s reading with just one or two children.

“It’s a great way to have back and fourth conversation, for example ‘I can see a horse, can you show me where the horse is?’ or ‘I can see you’re pointing to a monkey, can you find anymore monkeys?’ another one could be ‘I can see you’re point to a dog, what noise does a dog make?’

“It’s not only conversational reading,” Sasha continues. “But also just communicating throughout experiences, if a child is stacking a block on top of another block communicating that action that the child is doing.”

Nikki, the lead educator in the nursery also at our Burleigh campus, says utilising one-on-one periods during routines and rituals, such as nappy changes, washing hands and faces, sunscreen times, are a great time to be talking to the children about what they have been and are doing, ‘we are putting our sunscreen and hats on so we are sun-safe to go outside,’ for example. They also name body parts during the process.

“We always warn the children if we are about to touch their bodies in order to help them, like for nappy changes or sunscreen application, and dictate what is happening to them, so we are verbalising every step,” Nikki says.

“We also talk through the steps at rest times as we place the children in their cots or walk into the cot room, saying ‘we are going to rest our bodies and have some sleep now, I will see you when we wake up and we will do ___’. Basically, we are constantly narrating to the children their every move,” Nikki says.

At our Deception campus, Hayley, lead educator of the toddler studio, does the same thing, but adds a little twist.

“I do a lot of singing, and turning things into songs!” says Hayley. We think that’s a great idea, research shows that singing can help with language development, memory, and even emotional regulation. Singing also has many physical benefits, like improving breathing and posture, and help with early literacy.

“I also think it’s important to be at the child’s level. Talking clearly, and using simple sentences, as well as showing interest when they are speaking to you,” Hayley adds.

Social media accounts to follow

Social media can be a great source for parents, so when it comes to baby speech, we’ve got a few we recommend.

Firstly, for all things child-development and early learning, @littlescholarsearlylearning

Then specific for children’s speech development tips, tricks and support, we like these Instagram accounts:

Remember, if you’re worried about your child’s speech development, talk to your GP who can advise or help you with next steps to support your child.

Speech development chart information from Speech Pathology Australia

We adore the endless stream of questions that little ones bring to us every day!  From an early education standpoint, we want children to learn at every opportunity. Children are inquisitive beings, and they have lots to learn! At Little Scholars, we cherish this innate curiosity in children and strive to foster a lifelong passion for learning.

As parents and educators, we understand that some questions from our little ones can catch us off guard, leaving us searching for the right words to provide age-appropriate answers. We’re here to lend a helping hand, so let’s tackle a few of these tough questions together!

Conception

How are babies made/how did a baby get in a mummy’s belly?

Children at this age are curious about the beginning of life. You can answer simply, “A tiny seed, called sperm, from the daddy joins with a special egg from the mummy, and that’s how a baby starts to grow inside the mummy’s belly.” They may understand it like a fruit grows from a seed. For young children, this should satisfy the question. You may want to explain it’s not the same kind of egg we eat for breakfast!

Death

What does dying mean?

The concept of death can be challenging for young children to grasp. We think it’s important to be honest here. You can say, “Dying means that a person’s body stops working, and they don’t feel pain anymore. They don’t breathe, eat, feel hungry or cold. It’s a natural part of life’s cycle, like when leaves fall from a tree in the autumn.” This is a topic that may be followed up with further questions, such as ‘will I die or will you die?’ and be honest. “Yes, we all die. But I hope to be around for a really long time. I have no serious illnesses that could change that.”

What happens to us when we die?

For toddlers and preschoolers, you can offer a comforting response like, “When someone dies, they become like a beautiful memory in our hearts. We remember all the happy times we shared with them, and they will always be a part of us.” If your family has cultural or religious beliefs around death, this may be the place to share, “in our family and our culture/religion, we believe when the body dies ______.” Your child may work through this further through their play, but just be there for them and prepared to revisit this topic.

Same-sex relationships

How come Louis has two dads?

Children may notice different family structures. You can say, “Families come in all shapes and sizes. Louis is very lucky to have two dads who love and care for him just like your mummy and daddy love you.”

Separation

Why does Ashley’s mum live in a different house from her dad?

When answering a small child’s question about why a couple has divorced, we think a simple, honest, and age-appropriate response that takes their emotional well-being into consideration works best. Here’s one way to address the question: “Sometimes, mummies and daddies decide to live separately because they have found they feel happier when they have some space. It’s like when friends need some time apart.

If it’s your separation, your child will need a lot of reassurance from you. “Even though mummy and daddy won’t be living in the same house, we both still love you very much, and we will always be there for you. You will have special time with both of them, and we will continue to love and care for you in different homes.”

Young children may have a limited understanding of complex situations like divorce, so keeping the explanation simple and reassuring them of their parents’ love is crucial. Encourage them to share their feelings and questions, and assure them that it’s okay to talk about their emotions. Creating a supportive and open environment helps children navigate through changes and emotions in a healthy way.

News events

What happened in the news that’s making everyone so sad?

Addressing sad news can be tricky. Open the discussion by asking your child what they know about what’s happened in the news. This is a good opportunity to correct false information and provide context. Remember to use age-appropriate language. Check your child’s understanding throughout the conversation and allow them to ask questions. You can say, “Sometimes, sad things happen in the world, and it can make people feel upset. It’s okay to feel sad or worried, and we can always talk about our feelings with someone we trust. You can always talk to me about anything.”

Science-related

Why is the sky blue?

The secret behind the blue sky lies in something called “Rayleigh scattering”. It’s a fancy scientific term, but it’s a super interesting phenomenon that helps us understand why the sky is blue. When sunlight enters the Earth’s atmosphere, it interacts with tiny particles like dust, water vapour, and pollen. This mixing causes the sunlight to scatter, or spread out, in all directions. When light waves hit these particles, they bounce off and scatter in different directions, just like water droplets scatter after you throw a rock into a pond.

Now you might ask, “Why is the sky blue and not another colour?” That’s because blue light has a shorter wavelength than other colours of light, like red or yellow. Shorter wavelengths scatter more easily when they interact with the tiny particles in the atmosphere. So, when we look up at the sky, we see more blue light than other colours.

But guess what? The sky isn’t always blue! Sunrises and sunsets are not only beautiful but also full of science. The colours we see during these times depend on the angle of the sun and the distance its light travels through the atmosphere. The lower the sun is in the sky, the more atmosphere the light has to pass through. This causes shorter wavelengths, like blue and green, to scatter more, leaving the longer wavelengths, like red and orange, to dominate the sky. That’s why we see those breathtaking colours during sunrises and sunsets!

Clouds, pollution, and weather can also change the sky’s colour, making it look grey, white, hazy, or yellow.

Where do birds go at night?

Children might wonder where birds go when it gets dark. You can say, “Birds have special nests or cozy spots where they rest at night, just like we have our beds to sleep in.

How do plants grow?

Children might be fascinated by the growth of plants and flowers. You can say, “The plants have roots at the bottom that absorb water and minerals in the ground, and then the stem starts growing. With the help of the sunlight, the stem grows in branches. Green leaves start growing out of the branches. The five things plants need to grow are sunlight, water, minerals, and food..

Why do we have seasons?

Seasons happen because the Earth goes around the sun. The Earth travels around the sun, called an orbit, once a year or every 365 days. As the Earth orbits the sun, the amount of sunlight each location on the planet gets every day changes slightly. This change causes the seasons. When it’s closer to the sun, it’s warmer, and when it’s farther away, it’s cooler.

Where does rain come from?

Children may be curious about rain and weather. Sunlight heats up water on Earth’s surface. The heat causes the water to evaporate/dry up into the sky, or to turn into water vapor. This water vapor rises into the air and makes up clouds. As the water vapor cools, it turns back into water, in the form of droplets or rain drops.

How do airplanes fly?

Little ones might be fascinated by airplanes in the sky. “Airplanes have special wings that help lift them into the air. When they move forward, the air goes over and under the wings, which creates lift and allows the airplane to fly.”

If they have follow-up questions, we liked the answers from Britannica Kids.

Growing up

Why do I have to go to bed early?

Children may question bedtime rules. You can say, “Going to bed early helps our bodies and minds rest and get ready for a new day of fun and learning.”

Why do I have to eat vegetables? 

Answer with something like, “Vegetables have special nutrients that help our bodies grow strong and healthy. They are like superhero foods for our bodies! We need a variety of food that have different types of nutrients so our bodies can get everything they need to be the best they can be.

How come your body doesn’t look like mine?

We bet you thought the puberty question would come later! But nope, your child has noticed there’s a slight difference between their bodies and their parents’ bodies. We know this can feel awkward to answer, but your child doesn’t understand why it could be hard for their parents to explain, so use proper words and keep it simple.

  • Why do you have hair down there? Getting hair under your arms and on your private parts is a normal part of growing up for boys and girls.
  • What are those bumps on mummy’s chest? They’re called breasts and they come in all different sizes. They can make milk when mummies have babies in their bellies and can feed babies while they’re little.

It’s okay not to have all the answers, and it’s perfectly fine to keep explanations simple and age-appropriate. If you don’t have the answers, you can look it up together. By embracing your child’s questions and engaging in open conversations, you’re nurturing their curiosity and building a strong foundation for their learning journey. Be sure to let your lead educator know you’re having these conversations at home. Your child is likely not the only one wondering some of these questions, and your educators can find ways to help them understand life’s curiosities!

If you’re a parent of more than one child, or spend time with children of varying ages, you may already see the benefits of those children interacting with each other. In early learning, while we arrange for children of similar ages or development together most of the time, we do make time and space for children to spend time with older and younger children. Why? There’s a lot of research supporting children of various ages and abilities spending time together. We’ll look at a few of these studies and hear from some of our Little Scholars educators who can attest to the advantages of mixing things up!

As an early education provider, we tend to group children together who share similar abilities, who are at similar stages of development or of similar ages. The benefits of this include:

Keeping children together of similar also means they’re stimulated appropriately at each age. Educators can tailor the curriculum to meet the specific developmental needs and milestones common to that age group, making learning more targeted.

As well, being with peers at the same developmental stage allows for more accurate assessment of a child’s progress and needs, aiding in early identification of any learning or developmental challenges, and children of the same age often share similar interests and play preferences, making it easier to form friendships and social bonds.

With a narrower age range, the skill gap between the most and least advanced children in the class is reduced, making group activities more cohesive, and children may feel more at ease and less intimidated when surrounded by peers who are at the same developmental stage, boosting their confidence in social and learning situations.

It also allows educators to be able to use age-appropriate language and teaching methods that resonate with the entire room, making instructions and lessons more effective.

The studios at Little Scholars

It’s of course true that within ages of studios, for example the nursery, the milestone range can be large – a six month old infant isn’t at the same place a 12-month-old is, and even a 15 month old, but they’re similar enough in their needs that it makes sense to group them together. Our educators plan experiences that focus on movement skills, language development, fine motor development, and strengthening of developmental milestones based on the interests of the babies and research.

For toddlers, who are roughly 18 months to three years old, most are walking by this stage, some of them are learning to speak, sharing with other children and becoming potty trained. For toddlers, the curriculum includes a lot of opportunities for little ones to move their bodies and expel some of that endless energy, but a big focus is on communication and language development, which is why we help your child get to know sounds, words and language, including early literacy and numeracy and social and emotional development.

Then of course, there are our three to five-year-olds, who are further developing their language and literacy skills, fine and gross motor development and more. They are learning to work together in groups as well as individually, all in the build-up to formal schooling.

This is all to say there’s important reasons why our little scholars generally are grouped within similar ages and abilities in their studios. But this does not mean we don’t want them interacting with other children! The opposite, in fact.

The theorists who supported mixed-age grouping in early childhood

 

The idea to mix aged groups in early learning is of course not a new concept. Here’s two of many theorists of early childhood who supported the idea of bringing children together of mixed age and abilities.

Maria Montessori, the founder of the Montessori method, was a strong advocate for mixed-age classrooms. She believed that older children could serve as role models for younger ones, fostering a sense of community and collaborative learning.

“One of the most important aspects of our education system is the use of the mixed age group which allows all the children to find what is suitable for them, irrespective of their age, and which allows the younger children a graded series of models for imitation, and the older ones the opportunity to reinforce their own knowledge by teaching what they know.”

Now, Montessori classrooms often have children of varying ages working together, which she believed promoted social and emotional development.

Lev Vygotsky, a Russian psychologist, also supported the idea of mixed-age play through his theory of the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). According to Vygotsky, children can learn more when they interact with peers who are slightly more advanced than they are. This aligns well with the concept of mixed-age play, where older children can guide younger ones, helping them to reach higher levels of understanding and skill.

Siblings 1024x1024

Theo (5) and little sister Mila (3) often get to spend time with each other at our Nerang campus, despite their age difference!

The benefits of mixing ages in early education

The benefits to having children visit with different age groups are plentiful.

Older children provide leadership and support to younger ones, enhancing skills and confidence for both.

At all of our campuses, there are several sets of siblings. By allowing siblings to interact, it can help younger ones adjust to the care environment.

Even if children don’t have siblings at their campus, mixing with younger children gives them the chance to take on ‘big sibling’ roles.

The benefits also include:

  • Improved social skills – mixing age groups promotes turn-taking, sharing, and reduces conflicts as children have different needs and interests
  • Complex play – older children elevate the play ideas of younger ones, making play more engaging and creative
    Language development – Younger children are exposed to advanced language, while older ones learn to adapt their communication
  • Confidence boost – Spending time with other children of varying ages helps shy or less confident children build social skills by interacting with younger peers

Fosters tolerance and diversity, benefiting children with developmental delays as well.

“I believe that children should have the ability to socialise with children of various age groups,” says Claire, the educational leader at Little Scholars Nerang. “Allowing opportunities for siblings to group together while at the service can assist children to feel a sense of belonging and ease separation anxiety throughout the day.”

For younger children, they can learn from a peer more knowledgeable than themselves, it teaches them problem solving skills and more, says Claire. For the older children, it teaches them nurturing, patience and understanding.

Claire shared a story of one mixed age grouping of two children who weren’t related.

Jacobandfinn E1698385321793 274x300

Jacob and Finn are six years apart, share a birthday and have a unique bond at Little Scholars Nerang

“Jacob and Finn are six years apart. Finn began his Little Scholars journey at four months old and took an immediate liking to Jacob aged six at the time. Throughout their friendship, Jacob has assisted Finn to learn how to talk, build and walk. Finn shows great excitement to see Jacob each day by looking for him and can now ask where he is. Finn and Jacob spend time reading and playing together. Jacob uses the abecedarian approach of see, show, say when reading to Finn to build his cognitive skills more specifically language. Each morning and afternoon they spend time together and Finn continues to develop his skill set.

The research

Mixed age grouping for children struggling socially

In 1990, a study in the United States looked at how being in a group with children of different ages could help preschoolers who were having a hard time making friends. The study had 24 children who were either acting out or keeping to themselves. These little ones were put into one of three groups:

  • A group where they played with a younger child who was good at making friends.
  • A group where they played with a child their own age.
  • A group where they didn’t get any special playtime.

The results showed that the children who played with younger, socially skilled children improved the most. They were more likely to make friends and were less likely to act out or keep to themselves.

So, this study tells us that mixing children of different ages can really help those who are struggling to make friends. It can boost their social skills and help them get along better with others.

Complex play in mixed age groups

Another American study found that children in mixed-age classrooms were more likely to engage in complex play modes than children in same-age classrooms.

Over a course of 18 months, there were 47 children who participated. The researchers, from George Mason University, used a variety of methods to collect data, including direct observation, parent questionnaires, and teacher reports.

One of the key findings of the study was that children in mixed-age classrooms interacted more with their same-age peers over time. The researchers suggest that this is because children learn from each other. For example, older children may teach younger children new skills, and younger children may help older children to develop their social skills.

The study also found that older children in mixed-age classrooms became more like younger children, and younger children became more like older children. This is known as bidirectional socialisation. The researchers suggest that bidirectional socialisation may benefit both older and younger children. For example, older children may learn to be more patient and nurturing, and younger children may learn to be more independent and self-reliant.

Overall, the study provides evidence that mixed-age classrooms can have a positive impact on children’s social and behavioral development.

Vocabulary growth in mixed-age groups

A Danish study found that children in mixed-age classrooms had greater gains in vocabulary growth than children in same-age classrooms.

The researchers followed the same group of children over time. The study began when the children were two years and nine months old and ended when they were six years and 11 months old.

The researchers didn’t specify how many trials they conducted, but they did report that the study included 2,743 children. The minimum age difference between children in the same classroom was six months, and the maximum age difference was 24 months. The researchers found classrooms with a maximum age range of 24 months were associated with the greatest gains in vocabulary growth.

To measure children’s vocabulary development, the researchers used a standardised vocabulary test. They gave this test to the children at the beginning of the study and again at the end of the study.

The researchers did not directly observe how the children interacted with each other. However, they did collect data on children’s social interactions through teacher reports and parent questionnaires.

Overall, the study provides evidence that mixed-age classrooms can support children’s language development. However, more research is needed to understand the specific mechanisms through which mixed-age grouping benefits children.

How teachers support mixed age groups

Another study, this time from Sweden in 2022, focused on how preschool teachers implement curricula in different age group settings. The study involved 3,340 children between the ages of two years and nine months and six years and eleven months, from multiple preschools and was based on interviews with teachers.

The study aimed to answer two main questions:

  • How do preschool teachers express that the curriculum is implemented in age-homogeneous groups vs. mixed-age groups?
  • What are the teaching strategies in the different age formations?

In age-homogeneous groups, teachers felt they could focus on specific age-related goals, whereas in mixed-age groups, the curriculum was more flexible, allowing children to learn at their own pace. The study concluded that both age-homogeneous and mixed-age groups have their own sets of advantages and challenges when it comes to implementing the curriculum.

Researchers focused on the impact of mixed-age groups on children’s development, particularly in vocabulary. The study found that mixed-age groups could be positively linked to individual children’s development, especially in vocabulary.

Advantages of mixed-age groups:

  • Children can contribute different knowledge and experiences, helping each other
  • No need for children to compare themselves; there’s always someone who knows more or less
  • Allows for learning at their own level and pace
  • Teachers can focus on spontaneous teaching based on children’s play and interests.

Disadvantages or challenges:

  • Requires special teacher attention to ensure every child has learned what they need to transition from preschool to school
  • Teachers have the responsibility to motivate children to become interested in the learning process.

The study suggests that mixed-age groups can be beneficial for children’s development, but they require a specific type of teaching approach.

As you have now read, the benefits of mixed-age play in early learning are plentiful and supported by a wealth of research and educational theories. While it’s common to group children by age or developmental stage, there’s undeniable value in allowing children of different ages to interact. Studies have shown that this kind of grouping can enhance social skills, encourage more complex play, and even boost vocabulary development. Our educators at Little Scholars witness these benefits daily and incorporate mixed-age interactions into our curriculum.

However, it’s not just about mixing ages for the sake of it; it’s about creating a dynamic learning environment that caters to the individual needs of each child. Whether it’s older children mentoring the younger ones or everyone learning to communicate at different levels, the advantages are clear. But it’s not without its challenges; it requires a nuanced approach from educators to ensure that each child’s developmental needs are met. So, while there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to early education, the evidence points towards the value of a mixed-age setting in helping our little scholars grow into well-rounded individuals.

Resources:

The Case for Mixed-Age Grouping in Early Education (1990) by Lilian G. Katz, Demetra Evangelou, and Jeanette Allison Hartman

The social and behavioral ecology of mixed-age and same-age preschool classrooms: A natural experiment (2002) by Sarah Caverly and Adam Winsler.

Does mixing age groups in early childhood education settings support children’s language development? (2017) by Nina S. Mounts, Jaipaul L. Roopnarine, and Peter B. Smith.

Teaching and learning in age-homogeneous groups versus mixed-age groups in the preschool (2022) by Lena O Magnusson and Kerstin Bäckman

As the year draws to a close, our thoughts eagerly turn to the holiday season—a time for rest, cherished moments with family, and often, travel adventures with our little ones in tow.

Travelling with young children, whether by car or plane, can sometimes be a challenge for parents. But fear not, we’ve curated a list of our top activities to keep your little scholars engaged and happy on the journey! To keep the excitement alive, we’ve taken a leaf out of seasoned parents’ books: consider keeping these activities hidden and, for an added touch of magic, wrap them up like gifts to be unveiled en route.

At Little Scholars, we emphasise the importance of parental supervision for these activities. While we champion supporting local businesses, we must note that we cannot vouch for the compliance of their products with Australian safety standards. So while some of our suggestions may include links to Amazon, a third-party retailer, we also include reputable brands known for their strict adherence to safety regulations.

Headphones

We’re putting this at the top of the list, because they can fit on children of most ages. And, many parents might consider children’s headphones a necessity after a few hours of Cocomelon or The Wiggles on repeat. For children, specially designed ones for their small heads can help block out a bit of outside noise and help them enjoy their music, or children’s audiobooks or podcasts. Parents should look for ones that limit volume to no more than 85 decibels, and there are plenty of wireless or wired options and colours.

Myer, Kmart, Amazon, JB Hi-fi

Http Static.theiconic.com .au P Buddyphones 4173 2269251 1

Children ages 3-6

The world’s smallest bean bag toss

This fun and challenging game is perfect for ages 3 and up. The set includes two launch pads and targets, six mini bean bags, two pegs to keep score, and all of the fun that comes with it. Get ready for some friendly competition!

You can find versions of this at Kmart, and Target for $10-$15.

Beanbagtoss

Connect 4

Connect 4 on the go with this compact version of the classic Connect 4 game! You and your opponent get 21 checkers apiece and the chance to get 4 in a row. But you both get the chance to block the other’s attempts to connect with your own checkers.

You can find this online at Amazon, Catch.com.au,

Download

Polly Pocket

Bring your childhood nostalgia to the next generation with Polly Pocket. Though heavily marketed at a girl’s toy, we think this is a great sized travel toy for any imaginative child, and the range of options are nearly endless, though the same can be said for the price point, which can start around $20 and go up.

Found in stores such as KmartBig WToymate and online at Amazon

Download 1

Wikki Stix

Children can play with these bendable sticks anywhere — on airplane tray tables, in the car, at restaurants, and more.

The individual packs come with a puzzle or shape for the little ones to make with the Wikki Stix. You can also buy kits, like the Wikki Stix Traveler playset that comes with even more activities.

Found in a variety of packs online on Amazon

71h5o5hqrll. Ac Sx679

‘Magic’ Clay or play foam

Also known by other names by various brands, such as ‘Model Magic’, essentially it’s a children’s modelling clay, a slightly different texture to playdough, but its non-crumbling texture makes it less messy than playdough, perfect for driving or flying and keeping mess to a minimum.

Found for just over $5 at SpotlightBig WLincraft

9c58ce93 0cb4 4fed 8eb9 Dadba8f48842. Cr277142947947 Pt0 Sx220 V1

Wooden threading toys

Wooden threading toys are a great way to practice fine motor skills, problem solving, creativity, mindfulness and more!

You can find them for less than $10 at Kmart or Officeworks.

Download 2

Travel Tangram Puzzle

The tangram is a challenging puzzle consisting of seven magnet flat shapes, called tans, which are put together to form shapes. The objective of the puzzle is to form a specific shape (given only an outline or silhouette) using all seven pieces, which may not overlap.

You can find a lot of options of these at online stores such as AmazonTemu, for about $12 and up

Download 3

Children ages 1-3

Triangular crayons

Colouring is always a great activity for children, and these triangular crayons are perfect for flights! You can put them on the tray table with confidence, knowing they won’t fall off and go rolling down the aisle.

They’re also great for helping young ones practice their writing grip!

Find them on catch.com.auOfficeworks, and triangular coloured pencils at Kmart

61mkrlmhxbl. Ac Sx679

Sticker books

A classic child’s activity!

Some great ones include puffy sticker activity books, but children will love any of them, and the variety is endless. You can find them in your child’s favourite characters, including Bluey, Peppa Pig and Paw Patrol.

These are easily found in TargetBig WKmart and online stores.

Another idea! Sometimes, the frustrating thing about stickers generally is that once they’re stuck the first time, they’re not likely to stick again. And children love to peel them off and try to stick them again. In the car or on a plane, reusable stickers are great so children can create new play while buckled in.

You can find them at AmazonOfficeworks

Images

Gel window clings

Gel window clings are a great activity for babies or young toddlers. Those who are deep in their repetitive schema phase will love to peel these off and replace them again and again. They can be found in a massive variety of styles, and a variety of places in shops and online, Big WDymocksAmazon and more!

Toddlerentertainment 768x1024

Busy boards or books

These are great for toddlers, as they enhance fine motor skills in toddlers. As little ones engage with the various features of the board, they develop their hand-eye coordination, fine-tune their dexterity, and build finger strength. These skills are crucial for everyday activities such as fastening buttons and handling cutlery. And, these generally have enough to keep them busy for a while!

Find them on AmazonKmartTemple & WebsterTarget

71clndla5cl. Ac Sx300 Sy300 Ql70 Ml2

Children ages 0-18 months

Mess-free colouring books

These come in a variety of options, from invisible ‘ink’ markers to water brushes, these mess-free colouring books are great for little ones!

For the water brush colouring books, by using the refillable water brush you can watch bright images and activities appear right before your eyes using nothing but water! After bringing these scenes to life you can let them dry and enjoy the mess-free magic again.

Found at TargetAmazonBig WKmartOfficeworks and more!

Download 4

Sensory toys

Ok, we know this is a pretty broad spectrum, even for babies, but it’s worth sharing a few ideas.

These toys can bring a lot of interest to babies, exposing them to various textures, colours and patterns, and sounds. We’d suggest bringing out one they haven’t seen before to really draw their interest.

We love this one from Baby Bunting, which is a truly physical toy by promoting pulling and pushing, it also would be nice for aching chompers.

These Playgro animals, which can be found at a number of retailers from Big W to Target to Baby Bunting, are a hit with babies, are generally compact enough to be stored in a nappy bag or carry-on, and can often be hung from other objects, like car head rests.

81txtxzfowl. Ac Sx522

Pop-its/Fidget toys

These toys are great for any age, but they probably work as a slightly longer pass time for younger children.

These pop-its can go from simple design to ones that have games built in, such as ones that light up telling you where to touch next. They can be found in most department stores, online stores and often shopping centre kiosks.

KoganKmartBig W and more.

71pxqkprsfl 768x741

Fidget spinners with suction cups

Babies love things that spin, so getting a few different fidget spinners that you can stick to windows or table trays are sure to be a winner!

Find them at Kmartcatch.com.auBaby Bunting and more!

511nzvljsal. Ac Sx679

Free (or close to free) ideas

Fear not parents, we are also including some creative, budget-friendly travel activities:

  • Transform the humble airplane sickness bag into a puppet with a personality. All you need are some markers or coloured pencils for your child to add eyes, a mouth, and maybe even some hair.
  • Encourage your child to craft their own cup critters using the paper cups provided by the flight attendants.
  • Arm them with Post-it notes or fun-themed adhesive bandages to decorate their space (with your help, they can make sure to leave no trace behind).
  • An old spice jar and some pipe cleaners can become an engaging ‘post-the-shape’ game that’s perfect for developing fine motor skills.
  • With a handful of pipe cleaners and some uncooked pasta, your little one can thread their way to a handmade bracelet. (find pipe cleaners at Officeworks for less than $3!)
  • For a ready-made activity on the plane, consider free printable i-spy/scavenger hunt games designed for in-flight entertainment. Airport iSpy and Airplane iSpy. Here’s a road trip one as well. You can find lots of printable ones on sites like Pinterest, just keep in mind many are American, so will have American brands, road signs, etc.
  • And let’s not forget the power of snacks! Pack a variety of treats like raisins, cheese crackers, fruit pouches, blueberries, cooked pasta, mini sausages, rice cakes, bananas, granola bars, satsumas, cucumber slices, breadsticks, cheerios, and especially lollipops or dummies for help during descent.

The Little Scholars School of Early Learning recently joined forces with Southern Cross University for an innovative project, looking at how children engage and interact with social robots. NAO is a social robot that has been programmed to interact socially with people and this digital tool has the potential to serve as an educational aide in early learning settings.

Robot1 1 E1698896543171 1024x1003

Little Scholars’ Yatala campus was buzzing with excitement as it welcomed Dr Michelle Neumann, Research Assistant Ruby-Jane Barry, and of course, NAO. The visits were part of an educational initiative that captivated the preschool and kindergarten children, as well as educators. The children couldn’t wait to see if Dr. Neumann and NAO had arrived and would dash to the parent lounge to check, educators reported.

The children had the opportunity for one-on-one interactions with NAO, participating in games like ‘Simon Says’, Q&A sessions, and activities focused on literacy.

Dr. Neumann, who leads the project, is an associate professor in early childhood education at Southern Cross University. She believes that this is a frontier that early learning is just starting to venture into.

Interestingly, Dr. Neumann’s journey into early childhood education began after becoming a mum to five children. With an honours degree in science, she decided to pivot her career towards education and early learning. She went back to university, earned her Graduate Diploma in Education, Bachelor of Primary Education, and then completed her PhD focusing on early literacy development. Her dedication has earned her a recent award for research excellence from Southern Cross University, recognising her work in early literacy, digital technologies (tablets, apps, social robots), child development, parent-child interaction.

Helping with social development

While NAO has been used to support children’s learning about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) and coding, social robots also have the potential to be used to support language, literacy and social learning in the classroom, according to Michelle

“As a physically embodied version of a screen, a social robot may help young children from a range of diverse backgrounds develop their language and social skills,” Michelle said.

“Michelle and Ruby were so approachable and more than willing to let our little scholars meet NAO,” says Raylene, lead educator in the senior kindergarten room. “I was fascinated with NAO’s abilities, and the potential social robots could have in a classroom setting. As a lead educator, the benefits of having an additional learning assistant was something I was happy to advocate for, so I was quick to start drumming up more families to participate in the visits.”

Raylene said she had a lot of conversations with children preparing them for NAO’s visit, even conversations that maybe one day, the children might have robot friends to help their teachers in the classrooms.

“This was super exciting for the children. I did have to remind them and to the families that it wasn’t happening straight away, but the concept was well received. Families enjoyed the debates of whether it would take jobs from educators, and I enjoyed discussing this with them. By day two, Michelle and Ruby were needing to organise additional days to attend the service due to the influx of families wanting to participate,” Raylene said.

Raylene said on the first day, it was evident that although the children were excited, there were also plenty of nerves. Most of the children participated well, with a small handful quite shy, she said. As the program continued, the children got used to seeing Michelle, Ruby and NAO in the parent lounge, those children who were a little shy to begin with looked eager to have another turn.

Robot2 E1698896619569 876x1024

“This was obvious in my own son Tannen. Tannen was one of the few who participated on day one. The whole lead up was a confident ‘I’m having a robot friend’ until he got his robot friend,” Raylene said. “After his turn he told me he didn’t like it a lot because it was scary, however as the days went on, and more friends started to participate, and NAO became a familiar face, all of a sudden he was eager to come to the door to see if they were there yet, and talk to other children on the way in to see if they were going to go and play games with NAO that day. This is the way it unfolded for several children,” Raylene said.

After a few one-on-one visits to introduce NAO to children, Michelle made a final visit to introduce more campus children to NAO and play some games.

“You could see the comfort of the children who were already familiar with NAO, and it acted like a scaffold for the children who hadn’t had the chance yet to interact with him. Comments from children like ‘Oh, that’s just NAO’ and ‘I already played this game and it’s really fun’ to encourage peers along were incredible to hear because it was listening to four- to five-year-olds comforting each other and being confident with the experiences they had just had,” Raylene said.

The future of social robots

Michelle said one day she’d love to introduce a full program which sees social robots in more early learning classrooms. But, she says, these are still relatively early days. Social robots are a work in progress, and she acknowledges they’re limited in what they can currently do. She’d love to also work with children who would benefit from additional language and literacy support. For that to work, NAO’s voice recognition needs development as it would need to have the ability to understand a spectrum of language milestones, she said.

“It would take a lot of time, guidance and professional development for educators… and a lot of support to be able to use the social robot in its current form,” she said. “But they’re working on AI generated social robots and these innovative opportunities may make using social robots more usable in the classroom.”

And, the robots are not cheap. NAO can cost up to $20,000 AUD, which she acknowledges would be financially prohibitive to many early learning settings. Michelle says her hope is that more research to can be done to better understand the role that social robots could play in supporting young children’s early learning experiences. With emerging advances in robotics, it may be possible that the production costs of these devices could one day become a more affordable educational tool.

The collaboration between Little Scholars and Southern Cross University has opened up new avenues for early learning, showcasing the potential of integrating social robots like NAO into educational settings. The overwhelmingly positive response from both children and educators alike underscores the limitless possibilities this technology could offer. As we look to the future, the hope is that advancements in AI and robotics will make these educational tools more accessible and tailored to the unique needs of early learners. This pioneering initiative serves as a testament to the boundless curiosity and adaptability of children, and the commitment of educators like Michelle and Raylene to push the boundaries of what’s possible in early education.

Jae Fraser, founder of Little Scholars, wholeheartedly supports the NAO project with Little Scholars.

“This is such an exciting project for our little scholars to engage in,” he says. “Introducing social robots to Little Scholars, isn’t just a leap in technology; it’s a giant step in nurturing young minds.

“We look forward to where this will go, and how we can use resources like this to continue the learning journey for Little Scholars.”

Additional information

The potential of social robots in early learning includes:

  • Fostering learner engagement and attention to tasks
  • Acts as a guide or teaching assistant in the early years classroom
  • Reduces educator workload
  • Makes learning fun

Potential barriers and obstacles for social robots in early learning:

  • Limited functionality of social robots, such as voice recognition, conversational turn taking, understanding context
  • Financial and technical maintenance of social robots
  • Professional development for educators
  • Ethical considerations

Each child comes into the world with a unique temperament, or personal way of engaging with their surroundings. One key aspect of this temperament is how a child reacts to new experiences and people they haven’t met before. While some children are naturally at ease and dive straight into unfamiliar settings, others are more reserved and require additional time and support from attentive adults to feel secure in new situations.

We’ve all encountered them, the little ones who hang back a bit, observing the world from a safe distance before stepping in. Perhaps they clam up and don’t say a word, even when they’re encouraged to say hi. Whether it’s at a family gathering, coming to Little Scholars for the day, a playdate, or even in their own home, these children often take their time to warm up to both familiar faces and new acquaintances. While it’s easy to label them as ‘shy,’ ‘reserved,’ or even ‘standoffish,’ these terms can be misleading and, at times, unfairly stigmatising. The implication with terms like these often is that there’s something wrong with the child or some problem they need to outgrow.

Construction E1698038841376 300x262

Understanding the nuances of a slow-to-warm-up temperament is crucial, not just for parents but for anyone who interacts with children. These children aren’t necessarily shy or unsociable; rather, they have their own unique way of engaging with the world around them. And contrary to some misconceptions, their reserved nature isn’t a sign of rudeness or obnoxiousness. These children simply need time to observe a situation, time to figure out how things work, space to decide whether they feel comfortable with someone, and respect for their right to move at their own speed. In fact, if they feel pressured to change, then they can turn into shy people, as shyness often is based in a fear of being judged negatively.

Research tells us the brain grows tells us that children learn best when they feel safe and relaxed. Feeling safe helps their brains become more flexible, making it easier for them to learn new things. On the other hand, stress and worry can make learning more difficult. So it’s important to create safe and comfortable spaces where children can focus on learning. For all the reasons above,  children who warm up to others gradually are precisely those who could benefit the most from a little extra understanding and support from parents, caregivers, and other trusted adults in their lives.

One American study evaluated the usefulness of slow-to-warm-up temperament as conceptualised by Thomas and Chess in predicting child and maternal parenting behaviors, with a particular focus on its conceptual link to child inhibition. The study included 1,072 mothers and their children in the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development. The study found that slow-to-warm-up temperament in infancy did predict later inhibition. Specifically, ‘shy’ toddlers whose mothers are overprotective or overly forceful demonstrated more inhibition in childhood than shy toddlers whose mothers do not demonstrate such parenting styles. The study also found that maternal sensitive and stimulating/supportive parenting was associated with less shyness in early childhood for children who were slow-to-warm-up in infancy.

It also found slow-to-warm-up infants with high quality interactions with their mothers may be less likely than slow-to-warm-up infants with low quality interactions with their mothers to demonstrate inhibition in early childhood. So while it may be hard for parents who are not slow-to-warm up themselves to understand their child’s feelings, it’s important for them to understand what their child needs to feel comfortable. The style of parenting used with a slow-to-warm up child can affect them long into childhood and beyond.

So, how can we create an environment that not only respects their natural disposition but also empowers them to overcome feelings of anxiety or discomfort? How can we help them muster the courage to engage more freely with others, enriching their social experiences and emotional development?

Preparing for situations with your child

Children who are slow to warm up often feel more at ease when they know what’s coming. This could be anything from going to a friend’s birthday party to a visit to the dentist. You can help them get ready by:

  • Showing them photos or short clips of where you’re going or what you’ll be doing
  • Use pretend play to practice the activity at home before you go
  • If you can, visit the place before the actual event. That’s why Little Scholars playdates once you enrol can help your child begin to feel more comfortable with new surroundings
  • Go over the day’s plan so they know what activities are lined up and what’s expected of them. Even simple things, like changing into sport clothes before sport, or what happens at the dentist, should be mentioned
  • Consider reading books or watching videos that show similar experiences
  • Practice beforehand with role play. This helps to bring your child to that mindset before they are in that actual place, so that when the time comes, they’ve had a dress rehearsal.

Before going into a situation you suspect might be hard for your child to warm up, prepare them for what they can do when they get there by saying something like, ‘when we walk in, it may feel like a lot of people are there, when everyone comes to say hi, if you’re not ready, you can smile and wave.’

When in the moment where your child is still assessing the situation they’re in, you could say to your child something like, ‘You don’t have to answer, but if you want to, here’s a game. If you’re having a good time at this party, touch your nose, if you’re not, stomp your feet!” This helps warm the child up without feeling like they have to speak and help them get past the feeling of ‘freezing up’ and you might even get a smile out of them.

The strengths of the slow-to-warm-up child

Being someone who is a little more gradual in building comfort around others is not a negative trait, and it shouldn’t be treated as such. Children who are slow to warm up possess a unique set of strengths that make them truly special. Not only are they keen observers, picking up on nuances that might escape others, but they also demonstrate exceptional impulse control, carefully considering their actions before taking the plunge.

While they may have a selective circle of friends, their loyalty to those with whom they connect is unwavering. Their empathetic nature allows them to tune into the feelings of others, making them excellent listeners and compassionate companions.

Once they find their comfort zone, these children are every bit as joyful and adventurous as their peers. Additionally, their cautious approach often makes them excellent problem-solvers, as they take the time to assess situations thoroughly. Their introspective nature also lends itself to deep thinking, allowing them to engage meaningfully in activities and conversations.

There’s an opportunity there to lift up the cautious child as you observe them in these situations. Maybe by telling them you admire how they read the room before they move forward, or highlighting when they took a big step of approaching someone first,  then asking them how they felt afterward. This shows your child you’re always in their corner, and helps them build up those feelings of safety and confidence.

Building relationships at Little Scholars

Kristen, a lead educator in the early learner studio at Little Scholars Pacific Pines, says that building relationships through play is key, especially when a child starts with us for the first time.

“Play is the language of children,” Kristen says. “We are always on the child’s level offering support and companionship without expecting them to return or respond immediately. Through observations and learning stories we share how we celebrate even the smallest achievements such as a child engaging in a group activity alongside peers.”

Kristen says family involvement is really important, as our families know our little scholars best.

“We remember that every child is unique, and the key to helping slow-to-warm-up children is individualised attention and care. We work closely with families to bring children’s interests and special talents from home into their Little Scholars environment.”

Raylene, lead educator at our Yatala campus, agrees.

“One of the most useful, however overlooked strategies that I’ve used in my time as an educator is to build strong relationships with parents. When children see their parents positively engaging with a person, they begin to see that person as someone they too can connect with. Having a good relationship with families also provides the platform to initiate open, meaningful and welcomed communications whether it’s light social banter or a need to develop collaborative care strategies for their child.”

Ray also says it’s important for educators, parents and other people who interact with children to attune themselves to the child’s temperament.

“As educators it’s crucial to ensure that we are attuning to the children in our care at every stage of their life so they feel recognised and supported to become the capable little humans they were born to be at a pace that is natural for them.

“We can do this by being intentionally present in our interactions, which in turn gives us the opportunity to identify their emotional cues whether it’s from their words, behaviours or body language. We can continue developing this safe space for children and support them to feel seen, heard, understood and validated by ensuring we are genuinely responsive; actively listening to them and addressing their need in a way that allows them to feel content. It’s about not only recognising, but facilitating for each child as the individuals they are to build a trusting relationship and safe environment.”

Understanding and supporting children with a slow-to-warm-up temperament is a collective effort that involves parents, caregivers, and educators. At Little Scholars, we’re committed to creating an environment that respects and nurtures each child’s unique way of engaging with the world. By taking the time to understand these special little ones, we can help them flourish, turning their cautious observations into confident explorations. Rather than treat your child’s temperament as something that should be excused or apologised for, we should celebrate the strengths of these thoughtful, empathetic, and deeply introspective children, and offer them the understanding and support they deserve. After all, they might just be the careful thinkers, loyal friends, and compassionate leaders of tomorrow.

Tips for coming to Little Scholars with your little one who needs time to warm up

  • You’re bringing your child into Little Scholars for the day. The yard is already full of action, children running around, it’s noisy and might be overwhelming for a child who needs a bit of time to be comfortable.
    If possible, allow plenty of time to get there so you’re relaxed, not rushed
  • Arrive early so you and your child can be some of the first to enter the space. That will be so much better for them than arriving in a studio that is already full of children running around, making noise, possibly crowding other children
  • Let your child come in gradually, and engage slowly when they’re ready. You may sit together in the yard for a while before they decide to play
  • If an educator greets your child, don’t push your child to respond. If the educator asks a question, give your child time to respond – try not to jump in too quick to answer for them
  • It would be a good idea to talk to your child’s educator before his or her first day, away from ear shot, to let them know that your child is slow to warm and give suggestions on what seems to help.
  • Take care not to apologise for your child’s temperament. If a child always hears their parent say ‘sorry – he’s shy’, when your child hears this summary of their disposition, it could result in him or her acting in ways that confirm the expectations
Logo
Come and see the Little Scholars difference

Let us hold your hand and help looking for a child care centre. Leave your details with us and we’ll be in contact to arrange a time for a ‘Campus Tour’ and we will answer any questions you might have!