During the summer, a picnic can combine fun, learning, family meals, outside time in nature, and some kindergarten readiness. That’s quite a menu and it’s a “picnic” to do.
Much of the learning is so ordinary that we don’t even notice it. For example, when discussing what to eat, often a parent will ask a child a question such as “Do you want a cheese sandwich or some cheese and crackers?” In order to choose and answer, the child needs to make a decision. We don’t realize how the brain has to remember past experiences, compare them, and check current conditions. Making decisions is a complex thinking skill and requires lots of practice. That’s much learning in just a few words.
Or maybe a parent will ask “Do you want some watermelon in the red bowl or the yellow one?” This time, the child has to be able to match the color to the name. Considering the endless variations of each color, and the number of different objects that may be the same color, a lot of brain wiring has has to happen to figure out colors. Again, to do this kids need experiences and practice.
As kids picnic outside, their senses are stimulated by the sounds, sights, smell, taste, and touch of nature. Fingers play in the sand and grass and pick up sticks and pine cones. Two rocks tapped together make a much louder sound than the birds. The foods smell and taste extra special outdoors. And there’s always so much to see.
Moving and being active is just as important for brains as for bodies. Somehow on a picnic, the up and down and all around of young children is easier to handle than it is at home. Often, there is more interaction and talking with each other on a picnic. This supports social and emotional skills. Just in the body language, this little one is communicating.
Did you know that all this fun, learning, kindergarten readiness and life skills are also on the picnic menu? Can a breakfast, lunch or supper picnic be part of the day for your family?