Headed to a park or playground this summer? If so, keep these fun ideas in mind to foster your child’s development and creativity while outdoors!
Simply being outdoors, where your child can experience a multitude of new sounds, sights, and smells, will provide your child with new sensory experiences. Allowing your child to touch leaves, grass, flowers, and other textured objects will also give your child the opportunity to begin to use basic motor skills like grasping and reaching.
Building on the above experiences, your child may now be entering a very active and mobile time in her (and your) life! Allowing your child to sit along a walkway or in the grass can continue to provide her with new sensory experiences. Give opportunities to crawl over different surfaces, reach for objects around her, or even begin pulling up to stand at park benches or playground equipment.
If your child has good head control and is able to sit on his or her own, you can try pushing her in a baby swing or taking her for a trip down the slide!
Your child may now be cruising, walking, or even running! If so, focus all of that energy into loads of physical activity. In a safe and supervised environment, allow your child to climb park benches, crawl or walk up steps, and begin exploring playground equipment like sliding down a small slide independently while you cheer her on! Give her help to climb small rock walls or rungs of a ladder. If you don’t have access to a park with playground equipment, simply walking through a park, down curbs, or along walkways,while singing and performing fun motions like running, jumping, and “go/stop” types of games will be just as fun.
Your child may now be more skilled at climbing, running, jumping, and hopping. Continue to challenge her creativity and provide learning experiences along the way. For example, “run to the blue slide” or “can you count how many swings are on the swing set?” Playing games like “I spy” can also help to build verbal skills as she swings, slides, runs, and jumps around.
Have you been wanting to try out a new bike or scooter that your child received over the holidays? If so, your local park may be a great place to start! Practicing how to ride a scooter or bike may be frustrating, but in the end it can build your child’s coordination as well as confidence and independence to try to new things. Don’t have a bike or scooter? No problem! Simply playing games like hopscotch and hide-and-seek, along with all of the other fun activities listed above, can keep your child busy for hours!
This is a great age for children to begin attending outdoor day camps. She can begin to focus her skills like swimming or playing soccer, or she may even want to try an outdoor art or music camp. If day camps are out of your budget, simply playing outside at the local park or playground can continue to be fun and enriching to your child’s life.
If your child has special needs, any of the above activities can be adapted to suit your child’s needs! Send us a comment with any questions you may have and we’ll be happy to help you build fun activities into your child’s outdoor play time!
By: Dusanee Weinheimer PT, DPT