On the Road Again

Have you ever thought about how much time you and your child spend in transit each day? Whether you drive a car, pedal a bicycle, take a bus or subway, or walk, you and your child are together during that time. With a little planning, your journeys can become shared moments of fun and learning.

Before you go to the store, for example, involve your child in making a shopping list. You can ask your child to check the cereal boxes to see if any are almost empty. A 4- or 5-year-old also can check on the supply of milk, extra rolls of toilet tissue, and other items. Later, you can consult this list together as you shop.

As you proceed on your errands, read signs around you. Take along paper and pencil for mapping out your stops. Help orient your child by pointing out stores and streets you pass along the way.

After a busy day at school, your child may need a break from the hustle of the schedule. Bring along a light snack or something cool to drink for the trip home. (Some items such as lollipops are not safe in the car or on the bus; choose snacks with care.) Usually it’s a good idea to take a little quiet break before you begin discussing the day’s events or focusing on the next stop.

On days when neither of you feels like talking, a couple of sing-along or storybook tapes, kept in an activity bag or backpack, will come in handy. Drawing materials, large dice, card games, small toys, puzzles, and books make great additions to a backpack.

Before a long trip, gather information and read about the destination to help your child look forward to the excursion. Together, map out points of interest along the way.

Games like I Spy, searching for animals, counting colored cars, matching sign shapes, finding silly-named streets, looking for out-of-state license plates, or inventing rhymes amuse away the miles.

When you child’s attention begins to wander, switch to another game or take a break. Plan frequent stretch-and-bend stops to satisfy the wiggles. And don’t forget that favorite pillow or stuffed animal!

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