What fun and creative things can an American Home Health pediatric private duty nurse do with a child? Think about it. A whole world exists outside the walls of the house or apartment. With the permission of a parent, a nurse can take a child outside for a walk or to the neighborhood playground or even to a movie theater.

Almost every child old enough to walk loves to be outside. This provides not only a chance to take a break from the indoor routine but also to explore the sights and sounds of nature. Take a walk in the neighborhood. Explore the outdoors.

Encourage a young child to listen for animal sounds. If you say, “I hear puppy barking. What does puppy say?” The child will answer, “Woof, woof.” If you say, “I hear birds singing. What do the birds say?” The child will answer, “Tweet, tweet.” Any child who has a Fisher-Price See ‘n Say The Farmer Says Toy will already know the recorded sounds of many farm animals. Now’s an opportunity to hear the sounds of animals in the neighborhood.

Encourage the child to look for animals in the yards and trees. It is easy to find dogs and cats. With a little luck, you will find rabbits and squirrels. Stop to watch the animals. It is amazing to see a squirrel’s nest high up in the trees or to watch a squirrel come scampering down the trunk of a tree. Cottontail rabbits are common in yards and gardens in Illinois. You might even come upon a rabbit’s nest with baby bunnies. Look for nests in safe, sheltered places such as under a bush or in a crevice between rocks or even in a hollow log.

Young children are fascinated by things they find on these walks. Pinecones of various sizes, leaves, flowers, insects, and worms interest them. You’ll probably have to have a standard rule of “Look, but don’t touch.”

Make an exception for leaves from trees. Collecting leaves can be fun and educational. An older child can even press colorful leaves between pages of a book or catalog. Then the child can learn to identify the type of tree by studying its leaf.

When you were a child, did you ever use colored chalk to draw pictures on sidewalks? Do you remember playing hopscotch on the sidewalk? Perhaps you remember sitting on the steps of the front porch blowing bubbles. These old-fashioned pastimes still delight children today.

Have you ever laid on the grass on a sunny day and watched the clouds? You and the child can do this, too. The two of you can talk about what you see. Do the clouds look like mashed potatoes? Are they moving across the sky? You might even try having the child draw a picture of the clouds in the sky.

If you have a grand old movie theater within walking distance, you might be able to take an older child to an afternoon matinee. Whether you are a child or an adult, there’s nothing like seeing a Walt Disney classic on a big screen.

Outdoor activities will give your client a change of scenery and enrich his life. Try it. I guarantee that a few days later the child will ask you, “Can we go outside?”

By Karen Centowski