In these uncertain times, your neighbourhood can be both a comforting constant and a hotbed of adventure
My admiration goes out to all of you who are raising children in these challenging times. Schedules undone; school uncertain; playdates online; family visits curtailed; hugs from afar… yet here you are, doing it somehow. You are the constant in your child’s life – no one can take that away. Maybe if you look at other constants in your life (ones that haven’t gone away) you can lean on them, too, to get through things more easily with your kids. Here’s where your neighbourhood comes into the picture (albeit in a new and magical way).
Going outside is one of the saving graces – the soothing balm that can keep you and your family balanced in this unbalanced time. Your neighbourhood, always so present and ordinary in past months, can take on a whole new sheen if you explore it through inquisitive and imaginative eyes. You can take your kids on a different journey every day.
How many houses are on your street? Bet you don’t know the answer. Worth an investigation, I’d say. Single or joined? Storeys? Garages? You get the picture…
Lots of people walking their dogs these days. Have a dog in your household? On your walk, count the number of dogs you see and find out from the owners – who you probably know – what kind of dog they have. If your child likes one in particular, they can draw a picture of it and present it to the dog’s owner next time you see them.
Whistling is something every kid would like to do especially when they have a family member who’s got a terrific whistle. Does your daughter know you can whistle? Looking out for the birds in your ‘hood singing away may be a great opportunity to whistle in response. Identifying the bird is a good next step to finding out which birds make your neighbourhood their home.
If an after-supper walk is in your family’s routine or you would like to make it one, suggest a look at the sky – its stars (if it’s a clear night) or the sun going down, creating such beautiful colours that may fill your little one with sweet wonder. You never know how that panorama could ignite the makings of an artist or cosmologist.
“Don’t step on the cracks” has always been a favourite while walking the hood. Could stepping on one cause you to fall into the dragon’s cave? This is the perfect segue into storytelling, whether you or your son elect to tell the tale. Either way, the ordinary surroundings of your neighbourhood can free the imagination if you let their magic come out to play with your kids – and you!