The Sounds of Summer and the Skill of Listening

Close your eyes and visualize. What comes to mind when you think of the sounds of summer?

Some possibilities might include:

  • Sprinklers running
  • Lawn mowers rumbling
  • Children playing
  • Pool water splashing
  • Birds chirping
  • Ice clinking
  • Ice cream truck music tinkling

Certainly you could add many more to the list. Each of those suggestions instantly brings an auditory memory to your brain, doesn’t it?

When moving around your life and days you may hear these sounds without even realizing that you’re hearing them. Unless you train your attention, you may not even notice them at all. But when you engage in active listening then you hear a whole host of things.

Active listening is an important skill, one that we seek to develop in every Kindermusik class. It’s not just listening. It’s listening. Children spend so much time making the noise they don’t often sit down to understand the sounds around them. And so we practice.

We rub our ears from top to bottom to stimulate the auditory nerve and its neural pathways. We say “Listen, listen, listen, shh” as a way of cueing our children’s brains to pay attention and hold still. We play a mystery sound and ask them what it was. We mimic the sound. We repeat the sound and listen again.

This skill can help children in their social development, cognitive development, and more. The ability to perceive, process, and comprehend the sounds around us is a key ability that hearing people need to foster. We could all spend a little more time listening, don’t you think?

So this summer, spend a little time listening. By yourself or with your child. In the cool of twilight, sit on your back porch and listen. What do you hear? Help your child identify the sounds of summer. And as you listen yourself, you’ll find a little more calm, a little more peace. Who couldn’t use that?

Happy listening.

Summer Evening Listening Walk

The school year has wound down. The pleasant days of summer are here. The weather has heated up and the Covid cases are low and we can emerge from our wintery cocoons. It is the perfect time for a special activity we like to call the Listening Walk. But first, an explanation about listening.

In our classes we nearly always include a focused listening activity. The children love this! It’s so fun to “get out our listening ears to listen, listen, listen” and rub our ears to ready for listening. This not only helps focus the children’s brains for listening, but rubbing the ears stimulates nerves that awaken the brain and send out “feel-good” endorphins. We could all use a little more of those happy brain chemicals, so rub rub rub those ears!

We set aside time every week for focused listening because we know how important it is for children to develop the skill of listening. We must help support that development. It aids in their cognitive development, their social and emotional development, and of course their musical development!

We take a simple sound and help your children prepare for listening, going through the physical steps of calming their body, focusing their mind, processing the sound, and then developing a socially and emotionally appropriate response to the sound.

One of the best parts of a focused listening activity is seeing their eyes light up as they try to figure out what the sound is. You can practically see the wheels in their brains turning!

A way to extend this activity is with the previously mentioned “listening walk”. This is particularly effective and fun with preschool aged children and older. You can of course go on a listening walk with your babies and toddlers as well, but it will require more modeling and labeling from the parents.

First, tell your child you’re going on a special walk. Not a normal walk. A listening walk. You’re going to be completely silent as you walk down the street and be detectives. You’re going to see if you can figure out what people, animals, and the environment in your neighborhood are doing simply by being still and listening.

Walk a few steps. Do you hear a lawnmower? Walk a few more steps. Do you hear some birds chirping? Maybe your hear the whirring of a hummingbird’s wings. Walk down the block some more. Do you hear the sound of your own feet hitting the sidewalk? What else can you hear? Do you hear splashing? Does it sound like people swimming in a backyard pool? Or perhaps it’s a dog walking through a puddle left behind by the sprinklers.

This is such a fun way to get your child to wake up their senses and explore the world around them. You’ll enjoy it too!

And just in case you miss storytime with Ms Maren, here’s a perfect story about going on a listening walk. Watch this video with your child and go out on a walk together. What did YOU hear on YOUR walk?