In this new age of virtual communities and long-distance digital friendships, we sometimes forget how important our local, brick-and-mortar neighborhoods are to family life. In contrast, our preschoolers, who tend to be far more rooted in the day-to-day than we are, need no reminding. For kids, their own neighborhood is full of small, personal landmarks, interesting characters (both human and animal), favorite shops, friends, and more. They know all of the bumps in the sidewalks (to avoid when on scooters), they know which stores keep a bowl of candy on the counter, and most of all they know the other kids. All of those connections close at hand give them enormous satisfaction.
Our kids' local-mindedness means that moving, whether across the country or across town, will be a significant upheaval for everyone. It also means that they will share our eagerness to get to know the new neighborhood as quickly as possible.
So what is the best way for a busy parent to get to know a new neighborhood? Small children are known for asking a lot of questions, and we do well to follow their lead. When you spot a pleasant-looking parent (or babysitter for that matter) at the park, in the supermarket, on the corner, ask her or him a few of these questions:
And you? What would be your first questions when moving to a new neighborhood?
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