For infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, every new experience is an exciting opportunity to learn and explore the world. New experiences can also stimulate their brain development. Try out these fun, affordable outings that are sure to spark your little one's imagination and creativity.
Children’s brains are truly amazing. With each new experience, children soak up information and build stronger brain connections. The first five years of your child’s life, in particular, are full of big changes for your child’s brain. Throughout these early years, they’re forming the cognitive, emotional, social, and physical foundation of their brain. And to build a strong foundation, it’s crucial to have the right tools: new learning experiences.
Young children learn best when they can use their senses by seeing, touching, tasting, moving, and listening. The more experiences and senses they use, the more connections the brain develops. Caregivers and parents can help children learn by asking questions about what the child is experiencing, providing new ways to learn, encouraging the child to explore their senses, and helping them solve problems on their own. Here are some new experiences to try with your little one:
Visit your local library’s website, and see what programs they offer or what digital resources are available. For example, the Los Angeles Public Library System offers virtual storytime through Zoom and Instagram Live. They provide a felt board to engage children’s sense of touch as they listen to the story.
Try a free yoga-with-kids class, or test out some of the poses described in this article. Practicing yoga teaches them body awareness and fine motor skills, and it can have calming, stress-relieving effects on you and your child.
Look up different parks in your area, and make it a goal to visit a new one each month or quarter. While there, encourage your child to explore the different plants and insects they see along the way. Try touching safe objects like grass and sand. Point out the sounds you hear around you.
Go for a walk, or take a different route than usual. If your child is of talking age, ask them questions about their surroundings. What do you hear or see? What colors do you notice? If your child is not talking yet, point out objects, and tell them what they are.
Take your preschooler to a free museum day. Museums throughout California offer free days for families. You can see a list here. Many museums have interactive exhibits that offer sensory learning in children. Many organizations also offer free virtual field trips, giving your child the ability to explore faraway places without leaving your home.
Arrange a playdate with other children and their caregivers. When children play together, their imaginations take off! If you can, arrange a time when the adults and children play together, which is also beneficial for bonding.
Quick tip: Many local park districts have free children’s programs and activities for families to take advantage of. Look up your local park district’s website to learn more about their offerings.