Going for walks is an ideal way to spend time with the family - it's free, it's healthy, it's outdoors, it's fun and educational and it's something you can all share together no matter your age or ability. You can do it with other families, on your own or with other family members. It can be a long, all day affair or just an hour trek. It can be in all sorts of different terrain: woodland, seashore, farm land or country paths. Most of all, it's something to enjoy!
- Getting the children out of the door: older children may have opinions on going for walks so do make sure you describe the walk as an adventure; an excursion or something exciting rather than just a walk.
- Think of activities to do while on your adventure: collect things (feathers, pebbles, leaves) or spot things (acorns, birds, animal tracks).
- Play "follow the arrow": take 3 sticks and arrange them in an arrow. Send the children ahead and get them to make the arrow shape that will guide you all home.
- Follow My Leader: get the children to decide on the route. Ask them which paths to take or which way to turn.
- Make a map: draw a map of the route as you go, marking on special land marks.
- Snacks: take snacks to keep energy high and moral positive! Offer snacks when they find things or spot something fun.
- Play camouflage: send the children ahead and get them to hide. When you are near get them to jump out and surprise you!
- Do other things along the way: if you see logs, try and climb them, if you spot a brook try and cross it and any good climbing trees must be conquered! Help the little ones to climb up - they will love it!
- Be prepared for weather changes: take waterproofs as you don't want to be caught in a shower!
- Take the right equipment: make sure everyone has wellies or walking shoes to avoid hearing moaning children (and adults!) if their feet get wet.
- Listen to the children: if they get tired, try not to force them to go on... it may put them off for ever!
Growing up involves experiencing so many new things. As an adult, you can immediatly recognise the outdoor landscape, being able to identify lorries, tractors, pylons, streetlights, churches, factories, and so on. To your babies, these are all new, and they only begin to make sense of the landscape over time. Spend time outside with your children, go for walks and point out interesting features and objects; talk to them, and in time they will begin to learn about their environment. The great outdoors must be pretty baffling to a baby, but in no time at all, they will come to understand it and foster an appreciation for the finer things in life!