It always amazes me how observant my keiki are. When we travel across Maui seeking another adventure, I am often struck by the insightful comments they make about the weather, the wind, or the waves. I shouldn’t be surprised by this as their kilo skills have been carefully nurtured at home and school since they were babies. Still, I am delighted by their questions, inferences, and stories developed through kilo.

Kilo means to watch, observe, examine or forecast. Helping keiki develop a kilo practice can lead to a greater understanding of the human and natural world and appreciation for the observation approach Hawaiians used in natural resource management. Not only is kilo a way to develop a relationship to a place but it is also a way to become self-aware.

Develop “kilo-vision” and become an expert observer with your keiki.

  1. Find a quiet place and sit a few feet away from other people.
  2. Keep all technology out of reach.
  3. Breath in deeply, clear your mind, and focus on your senses. What are you seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting, and smelling?
  4. Observe the sky, land, water, plants, and animals (and humans!).
  5. Record observations in a notebook after the session is over.
  6. Start with 10 minutes and build on the daily practice to longer kilo sessions.

Have your keiki share their observations with you, siblings, or friends daily or weekly. Have them look for patterns over time and help them develop questions about relationships between natural phenomena, animals, and people. The goal is not to come up with answers, but rather to practice being open to new ways of seeing and thinking.

Including different family members, especially kūpuna, is a great way to discuss changes in landscapes or relationships over time. If kūpuna grew up in a different place, encourage dialogue on what their kilo experiences were. Creating time with family from different generations and places can improve familial connections while also allowing your keiki to hear about how others maintain a kilo practice.

Often, in Western-style settings, we are quick to create a hypothesis, ask questions, and seek quick answers. The practice of kilo encourages us to sit quietly, be patient, and let the information come to us on its own terms. I hope you find a kilo practice that is grounded and inspired by our beautiful home of Maui.

Kaimana Brummel is the product of a home dedicated to Hawaiian values and community. She strives to fulfill the responsibilities bestowed upon her by her ancestors, family, and community with aloha.