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We all want to fill our children’s lives with rich, educational experiences. But did you know that an activity or outing doesn’t have to be long, involved, or expensive to be educational? A walk around the block can be as educational to your child as a visit to a world-renowned animal park or botanical gardens. It’s all in what you put into it.
Here are three ways you can make a simple walk around the block with your child an educational experience that the world’s finest teachers can’t beat.
- Teach your child to walk with his eyes open. It’s easy to let our eyes run over what we see every day, and go past without really seeing anything. Ask your child questions about what is around him. Can you see any birds from where you are? How many ants do you think we’ll see today? Oh, look at that pretty dandelion growing between the cobblestones. Do you see any more?
- Teach your child to be observant. It’s not enough to see a bird—or ant, or dandelion—you want your child to see with the eye of a scientist, or perhaps that of an artist. Encourage him to look deeper than that first identifying glance. Putting it into words can be one way to do this. “Can you tell me what the bird looks like?” “It’s brown, and it has a fat tail, and a funny little beak, and it’s looking everywhere for something to eat.” “You’re right! What do its feet look like?” Continue the conversation as long as you like; the deeper you go, the more your child learns.
- Set math problems here, there, and everywhere. It’s not only the power of observation and a new appreciation for nature that your child gains on walks outdoors. Math is another area wonderfully suited to walks around the blocks. Ask your child how many more steps you’d have to take to have walked ten, or how many birds would need to fly in to make four. Talk about the shapes you see; rectangles for windows, cylinders for trash cans, or rectangular prisms for box stores are only a few examples.
Educational experiences are out there just waiting for your child—all you need to do is grab them and take advantage of the moment.