Listening walk: why it’s a good activity for children

On a listening walk, your child tries to focus on the sounds she hears around her. When your child really listens to background sounds, she’ll realise how much she can notice when she pays attention.

A listening walk is also a great way for you and your child to pay attention to what’s happening right now, moment by moment. This is mindfulness. Mindfulness can give your child skills to deal with the stress of play, study and work as he gets older.

What you need for a listening walk

You just need somewhere to walk. You can go for a listening walk anywhere. Familiar places are often good to start with, because your child can listen and hear things she hasn’t noticed before.

How to do a listening walk

  • Ask your child where he’d like to walk. You can choose somewhere nearby. Or if you have time, you could plan a listening walk in the bush or a botanic garden, or at the beach or a wildlife sanctuary. Natural sounds like leaves rustling, waves, sand underfoot and birdsong can be enjoyable and relaxing for you both.
  • Talk to your child about how to listen very carefully while you’re on your walk. You could ask your child what sounds she expects to hear.
  • Stop often, and in different places. Close your eyes together. Ask your child what he can hear.
  • Notice sounds, both near and far away. Talk about how loud the sounds are. Talk about what’s making the sounds. Are they made by people or machines, or are they natural noises like wind or birds?
  • Keep it fun. Let your child take the lead. Stop when your child has had enough. Have fun walking home together.

Adapting a listening walk for younger and older children

You can make this fun for your younger child by encouraging her to copy some of the noises she hears. See whether your child can make a sound like a kookaburra or a car engine, or make her footsteps sound louder or softer.

Your older child could draw a sound map after the walk, showing where he has walked and what he has heard along the way.