Crisis Hits and You’re Working at Home with Toddlers: Take a Walk

In my last two posts, the focus was on activities to do with your youngster(s) while working at home. I am going to write more on that topic in future posts.

In response to the prior two posts, someone wanted to know my favorite activity with toddlers. The activity I have in mind happens during downtime--before or after worktime.

So, I’m going to take a break from writing about working from home and explore this activity with you, which is taking a walk. This will still be relevant to those of you who are working at home with toddlers, as it becomes especially important to spend your time with them when wisely when you’re not working. You will benefit as much as your child.

Since the weather is getting nicer and daylight savings is in effect; let’s do it. Forget about TV and videos and get outside, you both deserve it.

You will enjoy the fresh air and you will be amazed to discover all the learning that happens when a toddler takes a walk.

Walking for an Adult is About the Goal

Most adults, including myself, tend to see walks as goal-oriented activities. We are focused on the end. Typically, there are two reasons we take walks.

  1. To get to our destination. (And, the sooner we get to the end, the better.)
  2. To exercise. (And, the faster the walk, the better.)

This is NOT true for children. Let’s go on a journey with the toddlers.

For a Child,  Walking is About the Journey

Unlike adults, children have a huge list of reasons for taking a walk. (Even though they can’t verbalize them, yet.)

When a child takes a walk, they see the journey as important. If we follow the child’s lead, we will find that it’s the experiences along the way that interests them. Children are curious about their world. They seek to discover, explore, create, problem-solve, and understand. Getting to the end is our adult agenda. The young child is ready to learn along the way.

What a Toddler Sees and Its Value

Here are just five possible examples of what a toddler may ponder, discover, or explore during the walk:

  1. She may see some grass and wonder what it might feel like if she slides the tip of the blade across her arm, her leg or her cheek. All the while, she is learning all sorts of information and new skills—for example, how to categorize similarities and differences.
  2. Or, perhaps, curious about that blade of grass, she may crumble it tightly in her fist. Wow—look at her, only a toddler, yet already beginning to build an understanding of cause and effect.
  3. Perhaps, she hears a noise. She may keep turning her body to find the source. (Please, don’t interrupt her. As adults, we are often interrupters.) If the adult is quiet enough, she may hear an even quieter sound—perhaps a neighbor’s chimes—and challenge herself to discover the direction it is coming from. She is already refining her observation skills.
  4. She may see a small hole in the dirt and wants to know how to make it bigger. She may try her hands, but finding they don’t do the job as well as she wants, she may look and look and look for a solution. You may see she is frustrated. WAIT, she’s ok, she’ll find what she wants. Finally – aha! After maybe 5 minutes she finds a small branch near the tree to dig, dig and dig. Look at her, testing her problem-solving abilities! She did it all by herself. There is nothing that feels quite as good as being able to figure something out by yourself. INDEPENDENCE is what healthy toddlers seek.
  5. Maybe, there is that large tree in the front yard. Guess what? Your toddler has been intrigued by that tree every time you pass it. Today she is going to get to EXPLORE it. This walk (journey)  offers a great opportunity to do this. What does the bark feel like? How does it feel to sit under it or to lay under it? She has so many ways to challenge herself with that tree, so many possibilities that we, as adults, would have missed. For I, her mom, thought it was just a tree to rush by to get to the mailbox. She, my child, knew to stop and savor it.

Conclusion

Today, during these crazy times, I hope you can take a stroll around where you live. Both the front and back yards work. You don’t need much space. If front and back yards are not good options for you, find a place that is as private as possible to explore. Of course, if you must go to a more public place, please wash hands before and after the walk, be cautious of face touching, and maintain sufficient social distancing from others.

My next post, coming out soon, will include my experience of taking a walk with my daughter when she was a toddler.

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