We live in a remarkable era where technology assists us with just about everything we do. As a parent, it’s sometimes difficult to know where to draw the line – in the sand, or on the iPad “Etch A Sketch” app. How much tech is too much for your preschooler? What is the value of 2D digital vs 3D real-world experiences?
Rather than putting “tech” experiences on the other side of more natural experiences, why not think of them as “Apples and Oranges.” They are different, but they are both fruit with benefits to your well being. There is so much that technology affords us. However, it should not out weigh three dimensional, real-world experiences, because there is an awful lot that the real world affords us and it is paramount for human development (child) and maintenance (YOU).
5 Things You Can Do With Your Child to “Keep it Real”
Grow Something Together
Grow a garden, plant a seed on a windowsill or plant a tree with your community. Watching tiny little seeds grow into tall plants with food you can eat is one of most amazing scientific wonders of this world. And sharing a discussion with your preschooler about how even the tallest, strongest standing tree began it’s life as fragile little seed can help them understand their own journey on this earth.
Keep Kitchen Items in Reach
We spend so much of our family time in the kitchen. Rather than have your little one in another room with their toys, make the kitchen part of their exploration and learning. Instead of cutting them out of your world with child-proofing and locking all the lower cabinets, consider rearranging your set up for a year or two. Put containers, pots, wooden spoons, colanders, etc. in your lower cabinets and surprise them by switching items around every two weeks or so. You can also put dry cereal in one container and raisins in another. Watch as they experience the sound it makes when they shake it or hit with a wooden spoon. Eventually, they learn to get the lids off the containers and later learn to match which lids go on which containers. Allowing your baby and preschooler to experience their own world within your world is a beautiful way for you to be together, while still getting things done.
Picnic in a Wide, Open Space
Ask your child to assist you while packing a lunch. Seeing the fruits of their own labor later in the day makes lunch taste that much better and also teaches them what they need for their own survival (i.e. “we’ll be out for a long time so we will need some good food and lots of water because it’s a hot day”). They can do the simplest things like put blueberries into a container or put sandwiches into the cooler etc.
Leave the electronics at home for the day and bring some activity-based toys, like balls to kick and butterfly nets. Ask them what else they think you will need for your picnic and then take them to BIG, wide open, space with trees, water, petting zoo etc. Stay “in the moment” as long as you can, you will be so re-energized and happy that you did as you watch them in wonder at the natural beauties of our world.
Take a Trip to the Library
There is a feeling everyone gets when they enter a library that simply cannot be put into words; for preschoolers, it is positively magical. Even the ritual of bringing home and returning borrowed items teaches them so many skills: sharing and responsibility, for example. Listening to storytellers, learning fingerplays and singing songs with other children, exploring all the various colors, shapes and textures of each book is one of those experiences that creates a imprint in a child’s mind for the rest of their life.
Build a Fort
Pillows, blankets, chairs, refrigerator boxes… pretty much anything can be used for fort making. Just make sure the fort is big enough for YOU and TWO. Not much point having a fort if you can’t invite friends in. Watching what preschoolers make without the assistance of adults is so fascinating. You can assist them along the way when necessary, but it’s pretty special when you leave them to engineer their own structure and design the interior to their liking.
KinderTown is very pleased to welcome Laura James from Mulberry Media Interactive, and developer of “Mulberry FingerPlays” as a guest writer on our blog. Laura is passionate about enabling parents to become their child’s best toy. Mulberry FingerPlays connects parents with 25 fingerplays that we all knew and loved as kids. Now parents can share these timeless stories, songs and play with their kids. Today she is sharing 5 ideas for parents to set up “real” spaces where kids can blossom.