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Better Learning Through Listening Skills

Aug 14, 2010 | By Harvey Craft

Listening in class is essential to learning. Some children can seem to pay attention and be far away. Try some tips to ensure that a child is listening and processing.

Mother listening to childParents offer a child's first lessons in listening skills by demonstrating some basic rules. Parents should demonstrate respect for what children say by listening and responding if necessary. Parents encourage listening skills when they speak to children in words – not unintelligible sounds – to acknowledge their comments. During extended conversations offer complete attention to children. Make eye contact and turn the radio or other distractions off.

Activities for Developing a Child's Listening Skills

  • Games with parents are generally helpful in the development of lots of desirable personal and academic traits. Some fun activities are listed below for helping with listening skills:
  • Put and familiar object in a coffee can. Shake the can and challenge the child to identify it by sound.
  • Read an interesting paragraph and ask the child to repeat it back in his own words.
  • Read or simply make up sentences that have a missing word, and ask the child to complete supply the missing word.
  • Read simple stories and poems to a child and ask him to interpret what is read.
  • Take time each day to simply talk to children about things that are important to them.
  • Describe something to children and ask them to decide what it is based on the description.
  • Read a brief age-appropriate story and tell the child that questions will be asked about the story the next day – or in an hour or two. Vary the time, but have fun with it. Praise success, don’t be critical of failure. This is practice.

Children listening in classroom

Teachers Need to Play an Active Role to Develop Listening Skills

The assumption that a quiet class is listening is often made in error. Teachers have a great deal of competition for a child's ears – sounds in the hall and through the walls can totally interrupt a listening child. The manner in which a lesson is presented is essential to enhancing listening. A monotone voice is deadly, as is a boring topic.

Teachers should actively plan to remove the boredom and practice their delivery. Parents can help here, too. Simple feedback from parents to teachers about how hard or how easy it is for a child to attend a particular class can be helpful. If enough parents make tactful comments, the teacher might react positively.

Ask Your Children About Their Day

Mother talking to daughter about her dayCheck with children when they come home from school. Ask them what happened at school. They may not want to spend a lot of time on the discussion, but only a few minutes are required. Parents might pick a subject or two and apply polite pressure for a few details that require the child to listen.

Parents need to teach (not quickly tell) children that listening is important. As had been said, parents need to model good listening, but they need to hold children accountable for missing important details about events generally. "I don't remember" often means "I didn't listen well". No need for parents to fuss, but sit the child down and reinforce the importance of listening with a brief positive, but firm discussion.

Children cannot succeed at school unless they can listen actively – not simply hear what the teacher says. Listening well is truly a skill to be developed and it begins at home with parents playing an active role. There are many activities parents can apply to enhance listening. Teachers can be helpful as well, and should not take it for granted that a quiet class is a listening class.

About the author:
Harvey Craft
 is a retired educator and former principal, with extensive experience in teaching grades six through to twelve. He is NBPTS certified in Adolescent Science and now spends his time in educational research, consulting, and freelance writing.
Click here to contact or read more articles by Harvey Craft.

Tags : education, learning, listening skills, children, kids, parents, teachers, advice

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