Tags: Featured Story, Infant & Baby, Maternity, Parenting, Preschool, Toddler
Are you stuck at home with an infant, wondering how to fill your day? Mommy and Me classes are the perfect antidote to any of that stir craziness or loneliness you may be experiencing and offer so many benefits to both you and your baby.
When you start exploring all of the Mommy and Me options out there, you may be overwhelmed by your choices. Your baby will love spending time outdoors with you and other children their age, so consider heading out to a fun Mommy and Me class focused on nature.
Besides giving you an opportunity to interact with other moms and meet playmates for your children, Mommy and Me classes provide a wonderful venue for you to learn and play with your baby. This time together builds memories and allows you to bond in a new environment. Being outside surrounded by the beauty of nature will make it all the more special. According to Head Start, spending time playing outdoors is good for infants’ and toddlers’ health and well-being, and nurtures their intellectual, emotional, social, and physical development.
Some of the known health benefits of children spending time outdoors include:
• Being more physically fit because they engage in activities like crawling, running, and climbing that strengthen their hearts, lungs, and muscles.
• Improving large motor skills.
• Strengthening the immune system.
• Getting a natural dose of vitamin D, which is needed to absorb calcium for healthy teeth and bones.
• Regulating and balancing sleep–wake cycles to improve your child’s sleep patterns.
• Reducing stress.
Next, nature Mommy and Me classes can help your children develop important cognitive skills. The natural world offers so many opportunities for discovery, imagination, creativity, problem-solving, and STEM education. It is filled with intriguing sights, sounds, smells, and textures for them to explore. They can also develop their communication skills and learn concepts like cause and effect and big and small. Finally, they gain spatial awareness as they move their bodies around in different ways and observe the world from different perspectives.
Your time in these classes can also help children develop socially and emotionally. Spending time in nature makes children feel more relaxed and happier overall. They are free to explore, move around, and make noise in ways that they may not be able to do while inside. Engaging in activities like digging a hole in the sand or dirt, watching a bug crawl around, or focusing on the passing clouds above gives children a sense of peace. They can also learn how to be nurturing by caring for plants, trees, animals, and insects. This experience can blossom into kindness as they interact with adults and their peers as well.
Finally, spending time outside builds their connection to and appreciation for the natural world that they will carry throughout their lives. By exposing our children to nature from this young age, we are planting the seeds so they will grow up to be passionate about protecting the environment.
Types of Activities
Each class will have its own theme and curriculum to help you and your baby connect with and explore nature in a creative, playful way. Some activities to expect in a nature Mommy and Me class include nature crafts, story time with nature books and poems, water play, gardening, nature yoga, sandbox play, hiking, seeing and touching live animals, building with and digging in dirt, watching worms wriggle through the soil, gazing at clouds, and listening to birds sing.
How To Find A Class
Although nature Mommy and Me classes may not be as easy to find as music and gym classes, more and more outdoor education programs are sprouting up all over, because parents and educators are realizing how beneficial spending time outdoors is for the healthy development of young children. You may have to dig around a bit, but look for a class at your local nature centers, science museums, children’s gardens, community centers, and houses of worship. You can also check with environmental organizations like Audubon and the Natural Start Alliance that offers a directory of nature-related pre-schools. Look for classes with names like “Nature Babies” or “Mother Nature and Me”.