New and Fun Ways to Engage with Your Child: Let’s Go Outside!

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We all know that times are hard, especially now. The future is uncertain and we don’t know when (if ever) things will get back to normal. We are spending more time at home and less time doing activities that we would ordinarily do, even more so going into this holiday season. So, with all of that anxiety weighing us down, it can be hard to find ways to combat that and find ways to be productive and active. 

Imagine how our children must feel! We already know that children have the same feelings, emotions and fears as we do, but that they are heightened exponentially by the fact that children have much less life experience (and ways to deal with big feelings) than adults. Sometimes, we forget that and it can be difficult to make sure that our children are getting everything they need through this time, as well. 

What Do We Do?

Along with not being able to do as much as we normally would comes the struggle to find fun, engaging things for our children to do, as well. Last month, we talked about involving your children in daily tasks, like cooking to help them in their development by doing things you already are doing anyway. However, we cannot forget that we are in the beautiful PNW and we have so much offered to us just by stepping outside. Here are some really fun and simple ideas for engaging your child outdoors! 

Forest with Waterfall

A Nature Walk: This is one of the simplest ways to get your child outside and also aid in their sensory development. Take a walk with your child outdoors and encourage them to collect any nature item in a bag that they find interesting. Talk with them throughout the walk about what they see, smell, hear, etc. Once you arrive home, allow them to use the materials they collected to create something. A piece of art, a home decoration, anything! 

Yard Work!: This is something that I am sure that a lot of us loathe doing, but it can be a great learning opportunity for your child. Not only can it help to teach them the idea of being responsible for their home and their surroundings, but it can also instill in them a sense of ownership over the Earth and how we should treat nature. Talking with them as you rake leaves about the cycle of nature, pulling weeds and encouraging them to think of new ways to use them (could they grow in a pot on their own?), helping them to plant a garden and care for nature; all of these can not only help you get a less-than-exciting job done, but it can do wonders for your child’s development and mind!

Fall TreesTrips to Tree Farms, Farmer’s Markets, etc.: Again, this is a great time to engage your children in conversation surrounding nature and the natural world. Talking with children about sights, sounds, and smells during these trips can really encourage their critical thinking as well as their respect for the Earth. Remember, that meaningful conversations with your child are SO important. Allowing your child the time to speak their thoughts and ideas and letting them know (by way of natural conversation) that those things are important is crucial to their social and emotional development. So the next time that you take a family trip to the market or go to pick out your tree this year, use that time to engage your child in the world around them. 

Have a Conversation!

During these times, it is so imperative that we spend as much time with our children and our families-after all, that is what life is all about when you get down to it. So, next time you are out enjoying everything beautiful that the PNW has to offer, try some of these simple ideas and have fun with your children!   

 

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Samuel
Samuel Broaden has been working in the Early Childhood Education field for over 15 years. In this time, he has worked in center-based child care as a teacher and a Center Director. He most recently was working for the Resource and Referral agency in Sacramento County supporting providers in both center-based and family child care homes in enhancing the quality of their programs. Samuel is very passionate about working with and supporting young children and their families. He believes in the importance of nature, play and child-directed learning to the development of each child. He works hard to help support everyone who works with young children to help create more supportive and trusting early learning environments. His work is centered around the idea that we should be the person we needed when we were younger for the children that we work with and that children deserve to be heard and trusted and given the space to discover who they truly are in relation to themselves and the world around them-without judgement.

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