Besides the indoor play-based activities that we do with out toddlers (you can view these from our other Play & Learn activities), we also believe in enhancing their learning through experiential activities, most of it outdoors! Children learn best when they have fun, are able to engage their 5 senses, observe and naturally make connections about the world around them. Here are just some of the simple day to day activities that you can expose your child to!
Visit the Zoo
We read lots of books about animals to our children from a young age, but nothing beats getting up close and personal to the animals at the Zoo! Claire's first trip to the Singapore Zoo was at 18 months old. Then, she was only able to verbalise a limited number of animal names such as "dog, cat, tiger". It was quite hilarious to see her point out every big cat she saw (cheetah, jaguar, lion) as "cat"! Of course, it was a perfect opportunity to point out to her the correct animal names.
Her favourite part of the zoo was the 'Rainforest Kidsworld'! Here, we watched an animal show which featured pet animals such as dogs, cats and birds. She was in love with the dogs and bravely petted those that were way bigger than her (her favourite animal)! The Rainforest Kidzworld also had other domesticated animals such as ponies, rabbits, goats where the kids were able to get up close and personal with them. Claire even wanted to crawl into the horse's stable to touch the horses!
We ended the day soaking off at the water play area where she had a GREAT deal of outdoor fun!
While we may live in a city, there are still lots of nice nature hangouts in Singapore to bring our kids to. There are plenty of literature benefits of nature for kids, some of which include improving mood, reducing anxiety, promoting play & physical activity, and engaging the five senses. Of course, not to mention, the nature outings are wonderful family bonding moments and the family pictures are beautiful for keepsake!
One of the most memorable nature outing we've taken was to Connie Island. We rented a bike and Claire rode in front in an infant bicycle seat! It was such a serene and peaceful experience just to ride through the bicycle paths with trees lined on both side, point out the monkeys, birds, flowers that we saw and stroll along the beach! The area outside of Connie Island, along Punggol Settlement, was absolutely beautiful as well, and we enjoyed the sunset while waving at the faraway boats and people fishing at the beachside.
It was a great family bonding session and Claire had lots of fun!
To a toddler, the supermarket is such an exciting and colourful place to be! Supermarket trips are excellent opportunity to introduce new vocabulary. Claire was inquisitively exploring the colourful fruits and vegetables and I took the opportunity to reinforce their vocabulary. Many of the names she already knew from her books and toys, but had not had the chance to see, smell & touch. She finally had a chance to see even exotic fruits like dragon fruit!
Older toddlers could get involved in grocery shopping with a shopping list, inculcating practical life skills!You could even squeeze in some addition work for them for them to learn money concepts.
Children should have lots of opportunities to run, jump, climb and play! Playing outdoors promotes well-bring and wholesome physical development. It allows them to explore their environment, develop muscle strength and coordination, and gain self-confidence!
Giving children the freedom of playing outdoors also helps them to feel happier and calmer, encouraging children to get rid of built up energy. This will also help them to ultimately be more focused at learning tasks requiring more concentration.
There are plenty of awesome outdoor places that you can bring your kids to - the pool, outdoor playgrounds, water playgrounds and parks! Thus, bring out the sun screen and head outdoors this weekend :)
Plan a Playdate
We love playdates because both mummy/daddy and baby have fun! Gather some of your friends/family who have toddlers/kids around your child's age and plan a play date session!
Play dates can take place indoor or outdoors. For indoor playdates, you can plan simple activities such as craftwork and toddler friendly games for the tots to interact. This would provide a great opportunity for your child to interact with other children, learning socialization skills in the process and values such as sharing and cooperation.
What other experiential activities can you think of to enrich your child's learning & create lasting family memories? :)
Early childhood specialists recognise that tapping into this curiosity lends a natural propensity for children to learn. Learning is effectively enhanced through experience which differs from passive rote learning, where knowledge is typically downloaded to the learner (think structured lessons, memorizing flashcards, memorizing multiplication tables, boring worksheets etc).
Today, many kids partake in fewer unstructured experiences than their parent’s generation which is a result of many factors, from advanced technology (TV, video games, internet, electronic toys etc.), parental fears over safety and hygiene to over-focus on structured activities solely aimed at improving a child’s academic results.
Pushy parents and tiger mums may be doing their children more harm than good through accelerated early learning focused solely on a child’s academic achievement. This also means that often young children are missing out on valuable free time to play! Play is important because through it, children learn a lot of social skills, creativity, problem solving and teamwork. They are effectively learning through experience!
What experiential learning essentially means is…
This form of learning is unstructured, without rules or time limits, and involves little adult guidance. Kids are allowed to learn naturally, on their own terms. Experiential learning can occur via activities such as playing outdoors, imaginative play, creative expression through art, exploration of nature and the child’s surrounding environment.
Experiential learning happens beyond the structure of a classroom curriculum and is available to every child at home, at playtime, on holiday or at weekends.
Thus, here are our top 3 reasons why experiential learning for children is so important.
Thus, we believe strongly in allowing our children to explore learning in a fun manner, creating connections about the world, and exposing them to enriching experiences.
Read our blog post on experiential activities you can do with your toddler to enhance learning!