Being in the park can be a time that is restorative, both for you and for your child. It is also a time for you and your child to play and be physically active.
Watch and listen:
What does your child like about being in the park? Is it nature, looking at flowers or watching the autumn leaves tumble to the ground? Is it the activities, the swings or jungle gyms? Is it other children? Is it all of the above?
For your baby
Notice what delights your child at the park and give your child more of those experiences, whether it's swinging on a baby swing, tossing piles of leaves or sitting in the sand box. Put words to these experiences or make up a song: “What did you do in the park today, dear little girl of mine? I saw another baby in the park today, mama dear mama of mine…”
For your toddler
Talk about what your child wants to do at the park and then make a point of doing it, then talk about what you did on the way home. This helps your child begin to make choices and plan ahead. Let your child collect little rocks, leaves or other natural things that fascinate him or her. Sorting helps your child learn to form categories by seeing the differences and similarities between objects. Bring along containers for scooping and pouring sand.
For your preschooler
Make plans to meet other friends at the park and discuss those plans in advance. Do you want to meet at the swings or at the climber? If your child likes flowers, talk about their colors and sizes, count them or ask questions about all the things you could make with them. Stop to watch a bug or a dog and talk about what you saw later.
These tips were developed for Born Learning by Mind in the Making, a project of the Families and Work Institute and New Screen Concepts.