Walking with children is a wonderful activity that can yield many benefits: nature study, exercise, and heart to heart discussions. You will maximize these benefits so you can enjoy walking with your preschooler.
Here are some hints to enjoy walking with your preschooler
1.Wear comfortable shoes. Children will not always tell you that their feet hurt. They may just start whining. Make sure that your child has a well fitting pair of sneakers and socks before you head out. Of course, you will have a better time if you wear comfortable shoes as well.
2. Take a drink and bathroom breaks before you leave. Hydration is important for enjoying any physical activity. Make sure everyone drinks plenty of water before you head out. Walking is not much fun when you feel the need for a toilet, but small children will often forget their need of the the bathroom in the excitement of heading out the door. Be sure to remind them.
3. Take a couple of bags. If you are walking with a preschooler, it is likely that you will find many must have treasures along the way: rocks, leaves, acorns, and little flowers. You will want to have a second bag for carrying home treasures. I neglected to do this on a recent hike, and my daughter spent quite a bit of energy holding onto her collection. Of course, if you are in a state park, you may need to say good-bye to the treasures before you leave.
Unfortunately, we often find trash along the path as we enjoy our walk. By picking up the litter and disposing of it properly, we can teach our children to take responsibility for their environment.
4. Go slowly. If you do nothing else, take time to walk slowly with your preschooler. My daughter was two when I read Maria Montessori's wisdom about walking with children. She said that small children can walk quite far–if they can go at their own pace. I tested her theory with my children and was amazed at the long strolls we could take together at a leisurely pace. My daughter is now four and still loves to go for a walk.
Some of my own favorite childhood memories involve walking with my family. Now as a mom, I love walking with my preschoolers. I hope you will enjoy treasured time walking with your preschooler as well!