Before an Adventure: 3 Things Before You Go
So, you have been following along with our Learning Through Adventures series and now you are excited to go on an adventure somewhere with your child, but where do I start you wonder?
I would start with where your child's interests lie. There are a lot of ideas in the series, as well as in our Bambini Field Guide. Choose one that fits the best with your child or group of children right now. For example, if they are interested in firefighters, start looking into firefighter field trips, if they are interested in transportation, consider going on a train or a bus ride.
Once you have picked your destination, do a little research. Hopefully our GO section can give you some helpful hints. Otherwise you can always look online at the place you are planning to go or call ahead.
Now you have the place and know the logistics, like where to go, how much it costs, whether you need to pack food, etc. What's next? There are 3 more things you need to do with your child to get ready for an adventure.
1. READ A FEW BOOKS
Reading aloud to your child is the number one best thing you can do to help prepare them for school, so isn't it handy that it is also one of the best ways to start getting ready for an adventure? When my kids are showing an interest in something, gathering books is one of the first things I do.
Books are great for introducing new vocabulary, expanding knowledge about a subject, and helping a child picture the real thing. All of these are helpful in preparing for an adventure. Young children like to have a sense of predictability about their world. This security helps them feel safe to explore. Reading together to expand the vocabulary they have to talk about what they might see and give them an idea of what they might experience is a good start.
2. TALK ABOUT EXPECTATIONS
I think this is one of the most important and practical tips for ensuring success in your adventure.
Know your expectations and communicate them to your child. Before you head out, establish in your mind what behavior you expect. Do they have to stay in the stroller? Do they have to hold your hand? Will they be able to touch things? What do you expect them to do or not do? Clarify these for yourself and then communicate them to your child.
To give you an idea of expectations, here is a situation that comes up a lot with my twins: Right now holding hands is a big issue for us. Sometimes they are expected to hold my hand, other times they are not. Sometimes they can wander more freely, sometimes they have to stay near me. Before we get out of the car, I clarify for them which situation this is and what the consequence will be if they aren't remembering the rule. For example, "You need to walk right next to me in the store. If you can't remember the rule you will have to hold my hand for a while so I can help you remember to stay near." Later if they have trouble, I say something like "Gosh. It seems like you are having a hard time staying near me. We're going to hold hands until the end of the aisle to help you remember and then you can try again on your own." There will envitably be some unhappiness about this, but stay firm. Something like, "You seem upset, do you need a hug before we hold hands?" or "You are upset about holding hands, but remember if you can do a good job while we hold hands in this aisle then you get to try again on your own" usually does the trick.
3. PACK YOUR BAG
It is a good idea to pack your bag the night before if you can. This way when your children are getting dressed and looking for that lost shoe you can help without feeling stressed.
When I am packing my bag, I usually walk through what we will be doing in my head from the start of the day to the end of the adventure. I also store most of the things that I need for adventures out of the house in the kitchen cabinet closest to the back door.
For more information and ideas for free or low-cost adventures for young children, check out our Bambini Field Guide.
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