A Listening Hike

Jennifer
October 5, 2011

While good walking shoes, sunscreen, water, and a hat are all musts for a hike with a preschooler, this week, Savvy wants you to put away your binoculars and focus on what you can hear instead of what you can see.  Listening engages the mind and shifts the focus from visual observations, increasing awareness in our natural surroundings.  This special hike will also reinforce that ever-discussed skill by parents of preschoolers—listening!  With these Savvy tips, your preschooler will surprise you with his listening skills on a fun hike at a nature reserve or just your local park and you may even reap the benefits later when you ask him to brush his teeth.

Make predictions:  Talk with your child about what sounds you might hear on your hike.  Write down his ideas so you can check them off as he hears them.  At the end, you can discuss why you did or did not hear the predicted sounds.

Listen carefully:  Ask your child to listen very carefully.  Help your child by stopping and standing still periodically or sit and close your eyes.  After 30 seconds or so, your preschooler’s mind will settle and he will become more acutely aware of his surroundings. 

Ask questions:  Do you hear any sounds from nature?  Do you hear any animal sounds?  How do you know they are animal sounds?  What kinds of animals do you hear?  Do you hear the wind?  Do you hear the wind louder when you stand still or when you move?  Do you hear water?  Do you hear any sounds that are not from nature?  Why?  Do you hear any plants?   Why do you hear the plants?  Do you hear people or insects?  Why do you hear these movements?  Let your little listener ask you questions about what you have heard as well.

Compare sight to sound:  At the end of the hike talk about the list of noises he thought he might hear.  Ask him how it was different to listen than to see and why.  Be sure to share with him your observations as well.

Families that listen together have fun together and learn new and interesting things about their environment.  If your child is stimulated by this Savvy listening hike, then take listening a step further by encouraging listening in everyday activities.  What sounds do you hear in the morning?  What sounds do you hear at school?  What sounds do you hear that you cannot see?  Why can you hear sounds that are too far away to see?  Parents cannot encourage listening skills enough, so have at it and listen your way through the next week with your favorite pal.

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