Dear Grandparenting: I’ve heard all that stuff about how grandchildren don’t get outside much anymore. Technology usually gets the blame, since kids today seem to be held hostage by their hi-tech toys and gadgets. It doesn’t have to be that way. All it takes is some get-up-and-go on my part. Right about now is the best time to be outside when Mother Nature puts on her big spring show.
You want to get to your grandkids early, like around age 4, before they get too rebellious. It’s ridiculously easy to get a 4- or 5-year-old grandchild interested in being outside and enjoying nature. All they need is a guide and that’s where I come in. Let’s go for a walk!!
I take all my grandkids on my little walking tours. At that age, you can open up the whole world for them. My granddaughters all love seeing gardens and flowers and learning how those things grow. My grandsons like to show me how fast they can run, jump, etc. I take them down to the stream to look for salamanders and critters, and we play hide and seek.
I always try to include a little surprise. Sometimes I’ll buy them an ice cream cone or a snack they want. The idea is to make being in the great outdoors something that’s fun and interesting instead of something they’re told to do. It’s that simple. Please pass it on. Kerry Furlong, Midlothian, Virginia
Dear Kerry: A walk is a wonderful way to bond with your grandchildren, introduce them to the wonders of the natural world and get some exercise in the process. A good walk is a great cure for boredom, restlessness and fussy behavior, and presents grandparents with opportunities to engage and stimulate grandchildren and leave lasting impressions.
We came up with a few ideas that may encourage other grandparents to give it a try. Ask simple questions to stimulate their thinking: “Where do you think that stream water comes from? Where does it end up?” or “Why do you think that house is for sale?” Draw them to sensory experiences like smell and sound.
How about a little math quiz, like “Can you give me five reasons why people need clean water?” Throw in some exercise. Orient the grandkids to their community. “Look – there’s a pole with red, white and blue stripes. It’s a barber’s pole.” When you constantly name things on walks, they can become some of the first words grandchildren ever learn. Before you know it, they’ll be talking about gazebos. We like the idea of including a little surprise, an unexpected stop or a cookie. And all the while you can both stop to celebrate nature and enjoy the gift of the day.
GRAND REMARK OF THE WEEK
Grandchildren are the only people who can get more out of you than the IRS. Gene Perret, humorist
Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.