How to Make Your Family Walk Child-Friendly
If you’re planning a country hike or weekend walks with your family, you’ll be hoping your children are as keen as you are. Not every child wants to be dragged away from their home comforts and pastimes for a long tiring walk. Remember one child’s reluctance can spoil the fun for everyone else, too. But if you’re facing this problem, the seven ideas below will soon get your children enthused. With these observational activities and games, you can turn your walk into a fun-packed adventure for all the family:
Share the Plan
Before setting off, tell your children where the route will lead and approximately how long the walk will take. Show them the way on a simple map and let them help you track your progress. This will help keep them focused and involved in the venture. Younger children can follow the route visually with the help of landmarks and descriptions. Give them points to look out for, such as a hill, wood or turning and let them feel they’re leading the way, rather than you; they’ll relish this important role.
Wherever you’re walking, there are likely to be birds around, so encourage your children to look out for them. Older children will enjoy the challenge of identifying them with the help of a smartphone, if available. Younger ones will love to imitate the birds, whether flying, hopping or squawking and you can add to the fun by joining in. Maybe take some bird food to scatter, for the pleasure of watching the birds gather to eat. Some bird’s nest can be hard to spot, but it’s exciting to peer into trees and hedges in case of a chance find.
Find Tiny Insects
Help your children look out for insects, spiders and other creepy-crawlies along your route. They’ll be fascinated by the tiny creatures and their light, fluttery movements. Show them how to pick up and handle delicate insects with due care and return them safely to their habitats. Again, older children will enjoy checking out their identities and details online. Ask what minibeast they would like to be in a fantasy world and think up one for yourself. Games like this will add extra fun to the walk.
Keep an eye out for larger animals
Depending where you are, you might spot little animals, such as squirrels or rabbits, or sea creatures like fish, dolphins or crabs. If you’re near a pond, lake or river, you might spot ducks, frogs or other freshwater creatures. Help your children catch them on camera, and stop to watch them a while. If you’re new to the area, check out the local wildlife before setting out, so you’ll all know what animals to look out for.
Check what’s growing
Wild places often have interesting fauna to appreciate. There might be pretty flowers, beautiful grasses or exotic fungi to look at, for instance. Even shrubs that sting or scratch can be interesting for children, though they’ll need to avoid any poisonous ones, of course. How many different types of grass, flower or tree can they count? How many colors can they see in the landscape?
What can you hear?
Add a fascinating extra dimension to your child’s hiking experience by alerting them to natural sounds. You might hear trees purring, a stream trickling or the ocean roaring. For instance, listen closely, and you might hear the rustling of animals or the chirping of birds. In a popular spot, you may hear fellow walkers chatting and laughing, while their dogs bark and pant. Help your youngsters catch, imitate and record the different sounds as you go.
What’s the sky like?
If you have a dull stretch of ground to cover during your walk, look up at the sky, and encourage your children to do the same. Talk about the pureness of the blue or the funny shapes of the clouds. Perhaps you’ll see a swarm of migrating birds to inspire your travels. If you spot an airplane, discuss ideas for its possible destination, including Disneyland or some other crazy concept. If you’re still out at nightfall, enjoy the sunset together.
Young legs can tire easily, so plan your walk to fit your children’s stamina, slotting in plenty of refreshment breaks and nature-watch pauses. Appropriate clothes and footwear are also important and will go a long way to keeping your children happy and focused. Finally, remember that your child will enjoy pointing out items of interest as well as being shown them. They’ll love to see the wonder on your face as they present an insect, leaf or other little finding.
You’ll have plenty of ideas up your sleeve by now to ensure an entertaining walk for all the family. The only danger now is that your kids won’t want to go home: you may need another little game to get them back indoors.