An Easy New Year’s Resolution for Parents: Talk More and Go Outside
As we head into a new year, many parents are making resolutions that involve improving their child’s education and well-being. For this month’s Thrive newsletter, we asked our very own education experts for resolution ideas that accomplish those goals and can also strengthen the relationship between parent and child.
Establish Time for ‘Important Talk’
Dr. Amy Brereton, our Executive Vice President of Academics, recommends setting aside a time each day to have “important talk” with your child. It doesn’t have to be a heavy discussion – just an opportunity for your child to express themselves freely and openly about anything that’s on their mind or that they may have difficulty talking about in normal settings.
“This is something that I started with my children when they were 4 years old,” Dr. Brereton said. “For us, it happens at bedtime. I ask if they have any ‘important talk.’ This can include anything they want me to know about, anything they are worried about, or anything they want help with thinking about.”
Dr. Brereton points out that the topics of discussion will obviously vary with age, but the exercise is important because the child gets accustomed to expressing themselves.
“For little ones, the subject matter is often very simple and delightful things, like them wanting me to know that they made it across the balance beam all by themselves,” Dr. Brereton said. “As they got a little older, sometimes important talk is about conflict with friends. Closer to adolescent age, the important talk has included observations they are making about how their bodies and feelings are changing. It is helpful to establish this practice when children are very young so that they grow knowing that a caring adult is making time daily to listen to them and encourage them as they face exciting or challenging moments in life.”
Spend More Time Outside to Connect with Nature
Lee Lanou, our Director of Montessori Education, suggests making a commitment to sending more time outside. Children and adults both are spending more time indoors than ever before. However, the physical and mental benefits of fresh air and sunshine are too good to neglect and taking advantage of them can be an easy goal to realize for 2022:
“Children are drawn to the natural world emotionally, spiritually, and even cognitively,” Lanou said. “According to the Harvard Health blog, spending time outside can improve a child’s chance of future health and success.”
The Harvard blog lists several ways being outside improves children’s well-being, including:
- Physical exercise
- Benefits from healthy amounts of sun exposure for healthy immune systems and sleep patterns
- Practice in developing executive functions, such as planning, prioritizing, and troubleshooting
- Gaining an appreciation for nature.
Lanou points out that Dr. Maria Montessori was a strong advocate for outdoor education, who wrote: “When children come into contact with nature, they reveal their true strength.”
“Getting outside with your child is not only healthy for both of you, but the time spent outdoors will spark their natural sense of wonder and awe of the world and their place in it,” Lanou said.