How to Build a Strong Neighbourhood for Kids

How to Build a Strong Neighbourhood for Kids - SavvyMom
Neighbors talking and kids playing

Knowing the neighbours is an important step to building safe and strong communities, with the added bonus of more potential for outdoor play. Kids aren’t going to get involved in a game of capture the flag or get good and dirty making mud pies if they look out to the sidewalks and playgrounds and see no one there. Here are a few ideas for how to meet the neighbours and strengthen the connections, getting people outside and visiting; in other words, how to build a strong neighbourhood for kids.

How to Build a Strong Neighbourhood for Kids

1) Get Gardening

When you’re outside, you’re more likely to catch the neighbours as they arrive and depart. Even a one-minute chat starts to build bonds, and the kids can also play while you get some green thumb time. Not loving the hobby? Try hosing down or sweeping the driveway instead, or decorating your front porch.

2) Stroll in the Neighbourhood

Making a habit of walking in your neighbourhood is good for your physical and mental health. Try early morning and after dinner walks, and make sure to invite the whole family. Say hi to everyone, ask to pet dogs, and generally be open to stopping for random conversations. You’ll get to know people who live in the area and have some great family time, too.

3) Get creative on the sidewalk

Join the kids in getting creative with sidewalk chalk. Write messages of hope, draw, or create a hopscotch path and then play. Ask passers-by for their favourite colour and animal and then try to draw it – maybe other neighbourhood kids will join in the fun.

4) Be the welcome wagon

When new folks move in, drop by with a welcome-to-the-neighbourhood gift. It could be a token, really, but it’s the chance to put a name and face to an address. You can’t go wrong with edible gifts. Dropping off holiday cards also helps to build a community that knows one another and looks out for everyone.

5) Go to the bus stop or walk with your kids to school

If at all possible, flex your work hours to be with your kids at the bus stop or join them to walk or bike to school. You’ll meet kids and parents and be able to get a feel for what’s going on both in the neighbourhood and the school. Bonus – this can lead to convenient carpool friends when the bus is a no-show or an appointment means you can’t make the trip to school.

6) Host a street party

Put on your party planner hat and get organizing. Drop off invitations for a neighbourhood party at your own abode, on the street, or in a local park. Plan games for the kids, from tag to blowing bubbles. Make it a potluck. Encourage mingling. Cast your net wide, and you’ll find that people attend, love it and make the event an annual tradition.

7) Help with Outdoor Chores

Pitch in to help shovel a neighbour’s walk, or cut the lawn while they are away. Not only is it so appreciated by older adults, it also opens up communication and lets people know that yours is more than just a great neighbourhood for kids, it’s a community that cares.

8) Set up a driveway basketball net

Even the little ones can start to develop skills at basketball, and this is one sport best done out front. Play with the kids for great exercise, and invite the neighbours over. As the kids grow it is be a hobby that stays with them – don’t be surprised to see teenagers taking over your parking spot for hours on end (psst – it’s worth it).

Strong communities are safe communities. Neighbours that know one another are more likely to have kids play together outside. Kids know where to go in times of trouble if their parents aren’t home. Long-lasting friendships form from people who grow up close together. It may take a bit of effort, but be the leader to bond a great neighbourhood for kids together. It’s good for the whole block.

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