If your preschooler is at that wriggly wiggly, thousand-questions-a-minute stage, then you know its time to get out of the house and playground, and explore the world beyond. And this doesn’t just mean visits to those “compulsory” places like the zoo, natural history museum, planetarium, or even the railway museum. Your child, and you too, will have as much fun, if not more, exploring people and places that affect your life in more tangible and everyday ways.
Just think of all the people and services that touch your life. The milkman brings in milk; so how about a visit to a local dairy or “doodhwala”. The newspaper boy delivers the paper; most newspapers encourage visitors to the editorial offices as well as the printing press. You just need to call in advance and fix up a convenient day with their public relations officer.
A really exciting place to visit is the fire station. The wailing siren and clanging bells of the ubiquitous red fire engine fascinate all children. So what could be better than a close look at those men in hats and boots.Our son recently went on a school trip to the local fire station. From the constant sirens that we had to endure for the rest of the week it was evident that this was the most exciting thing he’d done in school. The firemen put on the entire drill for the benefit of the kids, including the compulsory slide down the pole to the waiting engines. The kids even got to hear the sirens and clambered all over the engines. Some of the teachers zoomed their way up to an imaginary fire in the extendable ladders. And the icing on the cake: the firemen built up a small fire and doused the “roaring flames” with their hoses.
If you have any qualms about asking a fire officer to show you around, just take your child along. One look at those large hopeful eyes, and the most hard-hearted of people will usually give way.
A friend did just that with her twins and the daughter of a friend. She thought the airport would be the perfect place to see. After all, noisy jets were constantly flying over her home. So she landed up at the local airport, and planted the children in front of the public liaison officer. The officer hemmed and hawed, security restrictions were a problem, he said. No problem, countered the determined mother. I’ll stay right here, she said, and why don’t you take these three certainly-not-terrorist, four-year-olds on a round of the hangars and the airstrips.
An hour later, three chattering monkeys and one indulgent “uncle” had made their way through big commercial jets waiting for refueling, small private jets in the hangars and even helicopters getting a few repairs done. He even treated them to ice-creams, AND asked them to come back. Just shows how charming kids can be.
A really simple, no-fuss trip can be made to the local post office, or better still, a sorting office. Of course, if you can take the child through the entire routine of letter – letterbox – post office – sorting office; there’s nothing like it, but a sorting office alone will be great fun. The kids can watch as letters are slotted into pigeon holes, see all the sizes of letters and parcels that make their way to the post office, and finally your child can make her very own painting and mail it to a favourite grandparent/aunt/friend.
Excitement is just a short walk away. And taking along other children can make a day into a picnic. Dry-cleaners, bakers, bookshops, printing presses, mechanic workshops, train stations, picture framers, book-binders, plant nurseries, the possibilities are endless. Just carry plenty of water to drink, snacks to eat and, perhaps a camera, if you’d like to take pictures. And watch the magic begin!