Skip directly to content

Walking with a Toddler Takes So Long Because There’s So Much to Learn

on Tue, 04/23/2013 - 11:14

When my son was 2, a walk around my neighborhood could take an hour. There were multiple steps leading up to each house to test one’s strength and agility. We counted each set of steps, sometimes more than once. We looked up at the sky to see clouds and, sometimes, the moon. 

Each day something was different in the out-of-doors, in a neighbor’s garden or in the weather. There were sticks to collect, leaves to kick, shadows to jump over, and birds and squirrels to follow with our eyes. Insects and other tiny animals invited close observation with a magnifying glass and my enforcement of the “Do not stomp” rule. 

As my son grew older and learned to ride tricycles, he experienced the force of gravity as he worked hard to ride uphill and went heart-stoppingly (mine) fast downhill. 
These walks were nature walks, building my child’s knowledge of the natural and human-constructed world through direct experience.  
Read Peggy's article, Turn Any Walk into a Nature Walk
I hope you’ll share your own ideas about learning from nature and observation.
I look forward to hearing your ideas.

Peggy Ashbrook is the author of Science Is Simple: Over 250 Activities for Preschoolers. She teaches preschool science in Alexandria, Virginia, and leads workshops for early childhood teachers.


My daughter as a toddler was so entranced by the new spring flowers.  She sang to them and talked to them and touched them even as I would tell her, "Be careful - they are fragile." She  learned how fragile they were the old fashioned way - by breaking a tulip off the stem as she played with it and trying to reattach it to the stem - which she couldn't do of course. So in that way she learned to observe and not be so hands on with the flowers.

Thanks for sharing that memory of how your daughter learned about the fragile structure of a flower. It reminded me of the time I drew my exhuberant daughter's attention to the blooming peonies. She was just 2-years-old and I decided not to hold her back from her joyful batting the blooms to release the petals--all of them! While she was at it, she smelled the scent, felt the soft petals and watched how they fell. The following year we picked one or two but let the others finish blooming on their own schedule.

Great post Thanks.  

it's nice to recollect the past memories! A lovely post!

We love the way the outdoors can inspire movement and exploration - our kids LOVE this outdoor Sensory Motor Scavenger Hunt. It turns objects you can find into nature into great movement and sensory props!