Aesthetic awareness, or the ability to observe, process, react to, and value nature and artistic expression, plays an important role in early development. Our reactions to unusual sounds and sights can occur naturally, but grownups nurturing the listening skills, self-control (think: standing still to watch a hummingbird), and conversation it takes to really appreciate the beauty around us is critical for children.
Here are a few easy tips you can try…
1. Go on a nature sound scavenger hunt and listen for specific sounds (birds chirping, leaves rustling, etc.). Ask your child about what’s loud, what’s quiet, what they like and don’t like, and why.
2. When reading books together, ask your child to act out the sounds characters or objects make, and what scenes look like to them. For example, in the Kindermusik book I Need a Kazoot!, a furry creature goes in search of a “kazoot” and ends up exploring all sorts of silly, made-up instruments. Read the swipeable version in our free app and ask questions like “If a baboot growls like a lion, how would it sound? If a spacheek is twisty, how would you hold it and play it?”
3. Listen to songs together without distraction. Stream a song through your phone or car speaker (just making sure that anything with a screen is out of reach or sight), and ask questions like “Is the song loud or quiet? That’s a flute…can you make a sound like a flute? How would you dance to those soft bells?”
4. Keep kid-friendly art supplies within reach for those moments when inspiration strikes or big feelings take over. For example, one way to calm older toddlers’ or pre-k/kindergartners’ bodies post-meltdown is to ask them to draw what they’re feeling. Not only does it help them express emotions in a safe way, they’re unknowingly making advanced emotional connections with colors, shapes, brushstrokes, and more.
5. Explore aesthetic awareness in group musical play! From newborns to 7-year-olds, our classes are the perfect way to explore instrument sounds, interpret feelings through dance and song, and build up aesthetic appreciation as a team!
To really boost whole-child development, it’s up to us grownups to create environments and activities that awaken and foster aesthetic senses. The best part of this tall order is that it’s easy and fun!