Take Learning Outside in the Summer
|Children learning about shadows.|
Put down the paper! Workbooks aren’t the best way for young children to learn in any weather and now it’s summer! There is no reason to keep learning inside. Children learn best when they play and they are so often soothed by being in nature. Take advantage of all that the sunshine, warmth, family time and playtime have to offer:
- At the beach? Watch what your children are doing to see what they are curious about and how you can encourage them to explore. Is your child digging and digging? Ask open ended questions like “What are you doing” or “What are you looking for?” Listen carefully to the response but don’t give answers. Let your children express curiosity and investigate for answers. If you would like to reinforce alphabet lessons, casually start to draw letters in the sand. If your children are intrigued, they will join in by trying to draw letters in the sand or asking you to write something. If your children show no interest, don’t be concerned and don’t push them. They don’t have to do what you want when you want them to do it. They may have other nature puzzles to solve at that moment.
- In the car? Before car DVD players and individual earbuds, we used to play games on road trips. We learned a lot. We counted colors of different cars. We looked for different license plates. We talked about what we saw out the car windows. You don’t need to just remember those road trips fondly. You can have them now. Turn off the DVD, unplug the earbuds and play travel games. They are fun and support learning.
- In your yard? Take advantage of the time in familiar territory to teach children the value of nature. You can learn so much from sitting in the grass. There are bugs to watch, leaves to see, clouds to track and sounds to hear. Even more importantly, we can teach children something that will be of value for the rest of their lives – the importance of being still. Use your yard to show children how to be in the present. Our senses connect us to the here and now. Tell your children to close their eyes and ask them to tell you what they hear, feel and smell. Do it with them to see how soothing it is to have our senses bring us to this moment.
- Is it raining? Go out in it. That’s right. Get wet. Feel the mud. Jump in a puddle. It is disheartening to see how many young children are afraid of getting wet in the rain or are afraid to do something messy. It’s been a good day if your preschooler is a mess. It means that there was exploration which means that there was learning.
Learning doesn’t stop because it is summer and learning doesn’t really take place in workbooks. Deeper learning comes from experiences. Take time to think about what experiences you can offer your children in the next few months and let them guide the details based on their curiosity.
For more information, click on these titles: "What Does Learning Look Like in Preschool?" and "Do Our Children Learn or Understand?"
Read my articles in “The Shriver Report”: "Stress in the Family: Helping Our Children to Cope" ; "From Working Mom to Working Woman: The Opportunity of the Empty Nest""Family Finances: Tips To Teaching Your Kids About Money""Equality in My Home"
Read this blog for more articles. Ask your parenting & education questions and learn about early childhood workshops for parents & educators on my website - Helping Kids Achieve
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