With day care, ‘Mommy and Me’ classes and structured lessons available for kids at younger and younger ages, some local parents are looking for an alternative for their young kids. According to Kendra Crook, who is the president of the board organizing The New Park N’ Play in Ramsey, many local parents and grandparents are choosing old-fashioned free play for their kids.
Park N’ Play is a non-profit organization that kicked off its fifteenth season this week.
The wintertime indoor play center for young kids is holding the last day of its annual open house Thursday. Families from Ramsey, Mahwah and surrounding towns are invited to stop by for free to test out the free-play set-up.
The New Park N’ Play sets up shop every Monday through Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church of Ramsey. Kids from birth through age 6 can come to Park N’ Play with a caretaker and explore the wide variety of toys that line the building.
According to Crook, the concept is essentially the same as it was 15 years ago – to give kids and their parents a place to explore unstructured play while giving them the opportunity to socialize amongst their peers.
“Our kids need a community in the winter, when there’s not really the park or the town pool to go to,” Crook said. Her two kids, she said, have learned valuable lessons at the group free-play, like the importance of sharing and socialization.
The New Park N’ Play emphasizes safety and cleanliness, she said, as the front desk is always staffed, and toys are cleaned on a regular basis.
“We are actively looking for more members,” Crook, who said the facility usually has about 100 families sign up every year, said. “A lot of times, people wait until it starts getting really cold, or for after the holidays to think about a winter playtime spot. But, we start our season every November.” If locals join at the beginning of the season, the cost works out to about $10 a week per family, she said.
Anyone unable to attend this week’s free open house can still go to a $10 trial class to try it out, or get more information by calling (201) 760-8767 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.