The Summer Play Series: Nurturing children to do new things

Children are born eager to learn, wanting to understand everything they can about the world around them.  But to keep this deep-felt curiosity within them they need to have experiences of their own rewarding investigations.  You can nurture these instincts in your child by supporting these natural curiosities.

I wonder what that might feel like, taste like or smell of?

What might happen if I mix these together?

How do aircraft stay in the sky?

Rigid routines, set expectations and little ownership of their actions will see these early attempts and wanting to explore diminish.  So instead, embrace unexpected opportunities to be curious.  Adapt to unforeseen changes in the weather, opportunities for a new social encounter or a break in your routine.  When children experience doing new things, they are more ready to embrace the opportunities that come their way.  Seeing new experiences as something to learn by, rather than to be anxious of, denying their potential.  

Getting Curiously Creative

Offer lots of free exploration with a sensory station. This one might get a little messy, so perhaps best done outside. Fill different containers with materials such as rice, pasta, water, shaving foam and cornflour gloop. Then drop in toys or other small items for your child to explore.  You can provide cups, spoons of various sizes or scoops if they are reluctant to touch. You can play with cooking and cooling the pasta for a different texture, adding a food colouring or different scents.  You can encourage their wider curiosity by playing with the different effects they can have on the materials, the feel of the different textures and the movement they have. Seeing how splashing in the water feels very different to splashing in the gloop. How cooked pasta behaves differently in the water than when it is uncooked. You can prompt their discoveries with some “I wonder what might happen if…” discussions.

Walk of Wonder

You will not need too much effort to get your child deeply curious about everything around them when you go out for a walk together.  But they do need time, along with your patience and interest to make this really spellbinding.  So go for walks without a timeframe or even final destination necessarily in mind.  Talk with them about everything you see, “I wonder what it would feel like to be that bug?” “Where do you think he is going?”, “Where would you like to go if you were that small?” “I wonder where his home might be.”  This style of discussion, even long before they have the words to respond to you, is deeply more rewarding than asking them to name or count.   As they get a little older, talk about what you might see today.  Will you see the same things again?  How might they be different?  If possible, bring back souvenirs to remind them for next time.  You can use these opportunities of being in nature to develop their listening and attention skills, “What is that I can hear?” “Can you hear any birds today?” And whenever you can, use all their senses.  Let them touch, explore and investigate.  Splash in puddles, investigate every curb and walk barefoot together through the grass.

Adaptable Art 

Explore the joys of being adaptable with all the new possibilities it can bring.  Offer your child a range of different materials and let them mix, change, combine and explore.  You could explore all the things you have available around the house together.  What would happen if you mixed paint with washing up liquid?  Could you blow bubbles with a straw?  How would hair conditioner mixed with corn flour feel?  Can you change the colour?  How about the consistency?

This article is taken from our course: What Every Parent Should Know

Dr Kathryn Peckham is an Early Childhood Consultant, author and researcher and the founder of Nurturing Childhoods.  Providing all the knowledge, understanding and support you need to nurture your growing child.


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