By Guest Blogger Coretta Walker
Summer is the perfect time to take your child outside to burn off some energy and explore – the days are longer and there are so many things to see and do.
Scientists have found that 80% of brain growth happens in the first three years of a child’s life. To help make the most of these precious years, researchers at Harvard University created The Basics, five fun, free and easy ways parents and other caregivers can help young children learn and grow. One of the Basics is Explore Through Movement and Play, and summertime creates so many opportunities to do that outside while also just having a fun time with your little one. Even the smallest children can take advantage of the warm summer days to expand their horizons, both mentally and physically.
Great ways to Explore Through Movement and Play during summer include:
Take “tummy time” outside
We know that tummy time is such an important part of helping infants develop strong muscles and early movement. Consider taking a soft blanket outside for your child’s next round of tummy time – this will expose them to new sights, sounds and smells.
Go for a walk.
Take your child outside for a walk around the block or through one of the amazing parks in the area is a great way both for you to get some exercise and fresh air, but to also let your child see some new and different things. Push younger children in a stroller but encourage toddlers to walk at least part of the way. Take a few minutes to look at the world from their perspective. Talk about the plants and animals you see or the different sounds you hear. Point out the different shapes and colors of objects you see.
Play in the water.
Children of all ages (and adults, too) love playing in the water. And there are so many fun options! Get a small kiddie pool for your backyard and take your child outside to play. Fill up some buckets or bowls with water and let your child splash or pour the water from one to the other. Let your child run through the sprinkler while you water your yard or garden.
Even babies love watching bubbles, and reaching for them from a highchair, blanket on the ground or a parent’s arms gives them a great chance to stretch their muscles as well. Toddlers can chase bubbles around the yard and older toddlers may even be able to blow bubbles themselves.
Visit a playground.
Playgrounds have so many options for children to move, run, explore and play. Push your child on the swing. Encourage them to go down the slide. Watch as they try new things and get a better sense of different kinds of movement and their own physical abilities.
There are so many different activities you can try outside with your child this summer, but the most important part is letting them explore, move and play! To learn more ways to Explore Through Movement and Play and The Basics Guilford, visit guilfordbasics.org.
Coretta Walker is a project manager with Ready for School, Ready for Life, where she supports initiatives for children ages 3 to 5.
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