For parents, walking might be exercise or a chance to teach about nature. But we want you to use taking a walk as a chance for your child to start a conversation about what interests her. Exercise and learning about nature are certainly important, but for now, shift your focus to the actions that will nurture your child’s communication skills.
Here are the steps to remember:
- Have a Conversation
- Follow her Lead
A walk is an excellent time for you to wait quietly until your child initiates a conversation. People often enjoy nature together in silence so it won’t be as awkward as trying to be silent at the dinner table, for example.
Remember that a conversation is turn taking – a back and forth exchange. It is not a wildlife lecture. We can promise you that your child will not suffer permanent consequences if she calls a spider a ladybug. Correcting her on facts is not “Speech Friendly.”
Follow her Lead
Tune into subtle signs of her interests. It might not be as obvious as pointing to the sky and shouting, ”Look at that cloud!” Here are some example “conversations” that might take place
Her: Something catches her eye
Her: She stops and looks at some trash on the ground, looking up at you, she scowls
You: “Yucky trash!”
Her: She sees a butterfly on a flower and points – “Fly!”
You: “A butterfly! I see it!”
Her: as it flies away “Go!”
You: “Bye bye Butterfly!”
The idea is to exchange ideas and thoughts. You reinforce her emerging communication by keeping the conversation going – not by ”teaching” …. That happens naturally when you focus on interacting.