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May 06, 2021

Montessori Friendly Tips for Outdoor Toddler Exploration

I've mentioned this several times, but over the last few years we have made a much more conscious effort to get outside in all types of weather. Yes, that even means in Minnesota's long winters. But, in the winter there just isn't as much to explore here. The world is covered in ice and snow and pretty much that's it. But, now that Spring is really here, our world is far more exciting. From insects and flowers, to vegetable gardens and (gross) dog poop - even our immediate yard is a complete wonder for Teddy. 
Being outside with an active young toddler can be a little hectic. There's so much to explore! There's so much you could taste! But, not everything is safe. And we can't prepare the outdoor environment in the same way we can prepare the indoors to remove all danger. So it really becomes a balancing act between a child's safety and their drive and need to explore the environment. 

Montessori friendly tips for outdoor toddler exploration

Get on your toddler's level. This is something I recommend for indoors as well, but get on your child's level and check out the space. See the world as they see it. You'll discover what is really attractive or possibly dangerous. Then you can plan to make those areas as safe as possible. 

Know your yard/space. Get to know the plants and animals living around you. Which are safe to eat? Which are dangerous? Sometimes you can find a plant identification app that can help you if you aren't sure. This will help you know when you really need to keep your child away from something or if you can encourage gentle exploration. {If you're looking to learn animal or bird names, many states have books in this series which are awesome}

Stay close but not too close. Stay vigilant, especially if you still have a mouther. But still try to allow for exploration of the environment. 

Redirect to something edible. Make sure to plant something your child can eat! Try some herbs in a pot if you don't have a ton of space. This makes for a fun redirect if your toddler still needs a lot of oral exploration. Remember lots of flowers are edible too so it doesn't have to be herbs. Just make sure to skip chemicals. 

Set some limits and stick to them. Know what you are comfortable with and what you aren't. For us, there's no playing in the road. "We can play on the sidewalk, or you'll need to hold my hand." Or "we need to say on the driveway or we will have to play in the backyard." Just be clear and consistent then follow through. 

Fence it off. If there is something dangerous, or precious that you don't want hurt, try a temporary fence. There are tons of options and even a small edging can sometimes be enough of a visual reminder for a toddler to keep out of that area. 

Give practical life opportunities. Don't forget to provide tools for some practical work outside. While free exploration is always fun for toddlers, they love to really get in there and do some work for themselves. 

Try not to overreact. Weird things might get in their mouths. They are going to get dirty. They might even develop a fascination with dead bugs (hello Nora!) But, more likely than not, they are going to be ok. We just need to react calmly (and swiftly if it's truly dangerous) and remain in control. If we overreact we might allow our preconceived notions of the outdoors influence our children's own relationship. 

Easy, free tips for allowing toddlers to get outside and explore. These Montessori parenting tips balance the need to move with safety concerns.

And that's it! Do you have any tips to make outdoor exploration more successful for toddlers? 

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