W

hen 2-year-old Mira was learning to climb up and down on the swing, she was not just having fun. As she was climbing up, she was developing. Her coordination, gross motor skills, and balance. When sliding down, she was training her body awareness and proprioception - our sense of movement and position.

At the same time, she picked a yellow leaf and asked her Papa, "Why do leave ūüćā colors change?"

Why leaves turn Yellow asks Little Mira

This question is natural for a curious 2-year-old but also an opportunity to learn about nature and the changing seasons. Being outdoors exposes young children to stimuli that encourage them to explore and learn about the world around them.

So, her Papa explained how the temperature drops and days get shorter during fall, which causes trees to stop producing chlorophyll, the green pigment that gives leaves their colour. 

Doesn't this give an incredible opportunity for Papa to bond with Mira and teach his about science, nature, and the changing of seasons?

Mira's Papa uses technology like Bard to explain such concepts to his daughter, which is an exceptional way to learn together. Using AI to help kids learn in the park is what I call living in the future.

Now, learning is happening naturally without the need to be in a classroom where a teacher asks you to read from the book,  memorize, and answer questions. Instead, Mira is learning by asking questions and getting answers that make sense to her.

This interaction between Mira and her Papa presents a wonderful opportunity for bonding and learning about science and nature. It's a special moment where a parent can foster a child's curiosity and provide valuable insights into the world around them.

Mira playing with chestnuts and learning about them

Mira's Papa's use of technology, such as Bard, to explain complex concepts to his daughter is a testament to the innovative ways parents can engage with their children in the modern age. Using AI as an educational tool not only makes learning more interactive and engaging but also enhances the learning experience.

Incorporating technology into outdoor activities like a visit to the park allows children to connect with the natural world while also benefiting from the knowledge and resources available through digital tools. It's a perfect blend of traditional outdoor exploration and cutting-edge learning methods.

This approach not only stimulates a child's interest in science and nature but also strengthens the parent-child relationship by creating memorable shared experiences. It's a prime example of how technology can complement outdoor activities and make learning a fun and interactive adventure.

This kind of parenting indeed embraces the future of education and opens doors to endless possibilities for young learners like Mira.

This way, parents are involved naturally in their child's learning process. While the children are having fun, parents can guide them and help them make connections between what they see and what they hear.

In this serene moment, her Papa was not merely providing an answer but laying the foundation for a lifelong connection with the natural world.

The conversation was a symphony of curiosity, exploration, and bonding. Mira's young mind absorbed the wisdom of the seasons, the rhythm of nature, and the magic of transformation.

These precious moments spent in the great outdoors were more than just conversations; they were lessons in appreciation, encouragement, and freedom to learn.

By giving Mira the space to question, explore, and appreciate the intricate dance of the natural world, her father was nurturing a lifelong love for learning and a deep connection with the environment.

Through the art of subtle teaching, he empowered Mira to embrace the world's wonders with open arms.

Not only does being outdoors provide a natural and engaging learning environment, but it also has numerous benefits for a child's physical and mental well-being.

Research shows that spending time in nature can reduce stress, improve cognitive function and creativity, and promote healthy physical development.

Studies have found that children who spend more time outside are less likely to develop myopia (nearsightedness) and have a lower risk of obesity. Being outdoors also exposes children to vitamin D from the sun, which is crucial for healthy bone development.

Additionally, being outside also helps 2-year-old children develop their sensory skills. From feeling different textures with their hands and feet to smelling flowers and listening to birds chirping, being outdoors stimulates all five senses and aids their overall sensory development.

Furthermore, spending time outdoors also helps with developing cognitive skills. Studies have shown that outdoor play and exploration can help children develop problem-solving skills, creativity, and critical thinking.

This is because the outdoors offers a wide range of experiences and opportunities for young children to explore, analyze, and question.

When children play with other kids in a park, they observe, imitate, and learn from each other. This is an excellent way for 2-year-olds to develop their social skills and learn how to interact with others.

Not only does it help them build friendships and relationships, but it also helps them develop essential life skills such as cooperation, communication, and empathy.

In addition to physical and cognitive development, being outdoors positively affects emotional and social well-being. The natural environment has a calming and soothing effect on young children, which can help reduce stress, anxiety, and even aggression.

Being outside also allows children to interact with their peers in an unstructured environment, fostering social skills such as communication, cooperation, and empathy.

From feeling different textures of leaves and grass to smelling flowers and listening to birds chirping, young children are constantly exposed to new and diverse sensory experiences in nature.

What is Play According to Peter Gray

What Is Play?

Play is a concept that fills our minds with contradictions when we try to think deeply about it. Play is serious, yet not severe; trivial yet profound; imaginative and spontaneous, yet bound by rules and anchored in the real world. It is childish, yet underlies many of the most significant accomplishments of adults. From an evolutionary perspective, play ensures that children and other young mammals will learn what they must to survive and do well.

"The drive to play freely is a basic, biological drive."

What is Free Play?

Free play is how children learn to make friends, overcome their fears, solve problems, and generally take control of their lives.

The things children learn through their initiatives in free play cannot be taught in other ways.

There is no need for forced lessons, lectures, assignments, tests, grades, segregation by age in classrooms, or any other trappings of our standard, compulsory schooling system.

Peter Gray Summarizes that the play has these characteristics.

(1) play is self-chosen and self-directed;

(2) play is an activity in which means are more valued than ends;

(3) play has structure or rules that are not dictated by physical necessity but emanate from the minds of the players;

(4) play is imaginative, non-literal, mentally removed in some way from ‚Äúreal‚ÄĚ or ‚Äúserious‚ÄĚ life; and (5) play involves an active, alert, but nonstressed frame of mind

The joy of play is the ecstatic feeling of liberty. Play is not always accompanied by smiles and laughter, nor are smiles and laughter always signs of play; but play is always accompanied by a feeling of Yes, this is what I want to do right now. Players not only choose to play or not to play, but they also direct their actions during play. 

Play serves the serious purpose of education, but the player needs to be deliberately educating himself or herself. The player is playing for fun; education is a by-product. 

Benefits of Outdoor Play for 2-Year-Olds

Little Mira enjoying the swing

In addition to the physical benefits mentioned above, outdoor play has numerous other gifts for 2-year-olds. Here are some of the key benefits:

Improved imagination and creativity: Being outdoors allows young children to use their dreams and develop creative ways to play and explore.

Increased attention span: Spending time in nature has improved attention span and focus in young children.

Enhanced problem-solving skills: The outdoors offers endless problem-solving and critical thinking opportunities, which helps develop these skills.

Increased self-confidence: As children explore and try new things outdoors, they gain a sense of accomplishment and build confidence in their abilities.

Better sleep: Exposure to natural light and fresh air can help regulate a child's sleep cycle, leading to better and more restful sleep.

Promotes independence: Outdoor play allows children to make decisions and discover their interests, promoting independence and self-discovery.

Builds resilience: Being exposed to different weather conditions and challenges in the outdoors can help children build resilience and adaptability.

Outdoor play is a crucial aspect of a child's development and has numerous benefits for 2-year-olds. From physical and mental well-being to social and emotional development, the outdoors provides endless opportunities for young children to learn and grow in a natural and engaging environment. So, next time you're looking for ways to help your child learn, consider taking them outside to play! 

Posted 
Oct 21, 2023
 in 
Integrated Parenting
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