I’m writing this blog while sitting in my garden, listening to a chorus of birdsong, some distant traffic and the sounds of the breeze blowing through the trees.
Last week I read about some recent data that shows, on average, Britons spend five percent of the day (an hour and twelve minutes) outside. While another study commissioned by the National Trust found that children spend half the time playing outside that their parents did. This research showed that nowadays children are playing outside for an average of just over four hours a week.
You don’t need to have lots of outdoor play equipment or have somewhere special to help your grandchild benefit from being outside. Wherever you live you can share outdoor time with your grandchild; use this time to develop their senses and, in particular, their listening skills. Simply sit outside together and listen.
When you want your grandchild to listen, use the baby sign language for ‘listen’, cupping your ear. We do this with Daisy and now she’s started to use the ‘Listen’ signing too.
Extend these listening skills with a listening walk. If you have a smartphone or other recording device record some of the sounds you hear on the walk so that you can listen again creating your own Slow Radio. Once you start you’ll be surprised by the varied sounds you can capture: we recorded our footsteps, the buggy wheels, passing dogs, birdsong, vehicles and background conversation. Later, you can get more value from the recorded listening walk with your grandchild by trying to replicate or make versions of the sounds that they have heard.
A listening walk works wherever you are – town, countryside, seaside, park, woods, by a river…
Each listening walk will be different. Vary the timing of your walks, go out early morning and early evening.
Now Daisy will stand by the house door and tell us that she wants to go outside; I think that she would be outside all day long if that was possible. Daisy is too young for unsupervised outdoor play so we dress her to suit the weather and we join her outside!
Granny Smith says
Helping your grandchild become a good listener is so beneficial. Listening is a vital skill that will help your grandchild/child in many activities and in particular it will help them as they learn to read and write.