1. Don't try to "get" anywhere. We often end up just walking around the block, or sometimes just a few houses down and back. It's about the journey, not the destination ;)
2. Keep your eyes open for treasures. A feather, a rock, a shiny leaf. Be sure to stop and admire.
3. Listen. You might hear birds, airplanes, children, lawnmowers, motorcycles, crickets, or K's favourite: the garbage truck.
4. Talk about what you see, but leave space for quiet exploration too. I often point out new things on our daily walk, like the budding spring flowers, the roofers across the street, or the colony of ants in the sidewalk crack. Get a guidebook if you don't know names!
5. Be prepared to stop, run, go backwards, and turn around.
6. Walks can't happen strapped in a stroller. Keep your stroller for transportation, crowded events, and long journeys. Toddler exploration walks MUST happen on feet!
7.Wear good shoes. Toddlers should have well-fitting sneakers or shoes with straps that will stay on their feet. Taller boots are difficult to walk in at this age, and are not recommended.
8. Watch. We do a LOT of watching. The delivery truck, the landscapers, a squirrel, neighbors working in the garden, other children, and of course we always watch the garbage truck workers.
9. Ensure safety and courtesy when necessary. When we are walking on the sidewalk, K can walk safely on his own. If he starts to wander up a neighbor's yard, I gently guide him back to the sidewalk saying "We need to stay on the sidewalk." When crossing the street, I say "Hold my hand." and then "Is it safe?" while looking for moving cars in the road.
10. Practice wonder and curiosity to be present in the moment. A walk is a chance to explore! I often remark how beautiful the flowers are, or I ask where that plane is going. It's a great excuse to pay attention and see the world through a child's eyes again.
Leanne Gray, M.Ed is the owner of The Prepared Environment, which supports families in creating an ideal environment for their children at home. She has over fifteen years experience working with children in both public, private, and Montessori schools, and is AMI primary trained. You can always contact her for personalized support and answers to your questions. Schedule a free 20 minute info session here.