WASHINGTON, Sept. 30, 2015 — The political wars between Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders will still be raging next month. Why not take a political time out and treat your infant to a nature adventure?
Just as your eyes may light up polling data and political news, imagine how your infant’s eyes will sparkle at touching a leaf or seeing the fall colors change.
One way parents can play a powerful role in the development of their children — from infants to young teens — is to suspend their obsession with outside news and events to let their children’s world become part of their reality. Take time out and take a stroll around the neighborhood; head over to the neighborhood park; join your child in the moment.
Infants are fascinated by touch, feel and even smell. They’re fascinated by the sensory experience of the new.
Touch your infant’s cheek and then imagine how a leaf feels on a baby’s skin. Add in the comfort and excitement of your voice as you explain how nature works in the life cycle of a leaf. Your child will to be hanging on every word out of your mouth.
Why? You are assembling the building blocks of imagination, where their world expands and blends together in their mind with sight, sound, touch and feeling.
As fall moves in, you’ll have to start dressing your child and yourself for the weather, but even that can be a mini-adventure. Remember, small children like to crawl and splash if there is water; dress them in clothing that can stand up to water, grass and dirt.
Make it a game and don’t rush; make it fun. And don’t forget the wet wipes.
Take time to plan your nature adventure. When you go out on a nature walk, take a small bag to gather leaves and other interesting items; these might be saved for a family project. Think about some of the birds, animals and plants you might see on your walk.
Keep your camera or cell phone ready to record some moments with photos, and make sure your child is in them. This will help preserve the memories.
When you return home, reinforce the experience by retelling the sights and activities you shared. Let your child share the adventure with the rest of the family through show-and-tell and photos. These experiences will become priceless memories some day.
Each snapshot that a child shares is a memory and a family treat.
It will last a lot longer than memories of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton and be more important to you than the presidential election season.
Cherish the time out and your child will too.