Summertime brings with it longer days filled with sunshine and growth and a sense of renewal on many levels. It is a time to take long walks, put our hands in the soil, and breathe in the fragrance of the flowers. This time of year can be a simple time; letting our senses take over while our minds wander.
Our children follow our lead, and learn from what we say and do. Very young children soak up what they experience, building brain connections as they go. It is up to us to be deliberate in our sharing of these experiences. If we narrate what we do and how we feel while in nature, our children will take that time to experience it with us.
“Experience is an essential component of brain development. A child’s specific experiences determine which connections are strengthened and expanded and which connections are eliminated.” ( Better Brains for Babies)
Taking a step outside of our regular routine, allows us to be spontaneous and creative which gives our children the chance to see things from a different perspective. Encouraging outside exploration when our children are young fosters a love for nature early; which will benefit them as they grow. Daily walks that include time to sit under a tree, roll down a hill, climb on rocks or just collect rocks are great ways to slow down and enjoy moments while building memories. “Our role is to facilitate children’s thinking and leaning as they discover meaningful experiences.” ( NAEYC, Beyond the Journal 2008).
It is the simple things that matter most. Your voice, narrating what is happening, your touch, soft and comforting, and your attention, interested and engaged are the components needed to encourage learning and enhance brain growth. No toy or DVD can compare to the time spent with your child. “ Not only do children learn lots of basic and fundamental information about how the world works in a very effective manner, they are more likely to remember what they learned because it was concrete and personally meaningful.”( Ormrod, 1977)
The first three years are critical for brain growth and development. By the time our children are three, 80% of the brain is formed and the experiences that help form their brain come directly from you. With that in mind, turn off the screen, get up from the chair and interact directly and daily with your child.