Listening walk: why it’s a good activity for children
On a listening walk, your child tries to focus on the sounds they hear around them. When your child really listens to background sounds, they’ll realise how much they can notice when they pay 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 they get 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 they haven’t noticed before.
How to do a listening walk
- Ask your child where they’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 they expect to hear.
- Stop often, and stop in different places too. Close your eyes together. Ask your child what they 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?
- 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 younger children by encouraging them to copy some of the noises they hear. See whether your child can make a sound like a kookaburra or a car engine. Or they could try to make their footsteps sound louder or softer.
Older children could draw a sound map after the walk, showing where they walked and what they heard along the way.
All children learn and develop through play. Our articles on play and autistic children and play and children with disability are great starting points for adapting this activity guide for children with diverse abilities. You might also like to explore our activity guides for children with diverse abilities.