Many parents think that listening skills develop naturally, but the truth is that just like any other skill, listening comprehension can be significantly improved through a series of well-documented methods. By helping your child tackle this critical life skill, you ensure that he’ll be equipped to a degree of excellence with all the tools that school and social relationships will require from him.

Listening comprehension is essential for processing information and being able to engage in effective communication, which is why listening skills can be the determinant factor in being a well-adjusted person. Research suggests that a lack of listening skills can lead to serious learning challenges, and children who cannot practice active listening are in danger of falling behind their peers in school.

Hearing, Listening, and Attention

Before delving into the methods of improving your child’s listening skills, it is important to outline the difference between hearing and listening. Whereas hearing is the physical act of receiving information through sounds and passing it along to the brain, listening refers to the ability to intercept information through sounds, acknowledging it as important, and then interpret it in the brain. A key element connected to these two processes is attention.

Although children vary in their ability to listen actively, their ability to maintain focus for a sustained period may vary, and this is where there is room for improvement.

Depending on your child’s stage of development, there are various ways to improve his listening skills. What you should aim for is teaching your child to grasp the meaning of the words he hears and put them in a context. Similarly, he should also be able to remember what he hears, discuss it, and retell in his own words.

Practical Ways to Improve Your Child’s Listening Skills

  • Reading stories. Read stories to your child and try to keep him engaged by asking him either to predict possible plot twists or to retell his favorite parts. Your child will learn the value of listening to the details so he can improve his chances of making a good guess. The act of telling a story to your child will transform thus in an interactive and rewarding lesson.
  • Repeating instructions. Whenever you give an instruction, ask your child to repeat it with the same words. This will prompt him to pay close attention to your words. Whenever you ask him to wash his hands for dinner or pick up his toys, ask him to repeat back the things he needs to do. By doing so, you’re giving him time to process the information. This also allows you to quickly assess his listening skills.
  • Listening to stories. Listen to audio stories with your child. This is one of the most effective ways of nurturing a good listener. The attention span of your child will gradually increase, and concentration during in-person conversation will no longer be an issue.
  • Identifying sounds. Teach your child to identify sounds and voices. Play different sounds and voices to your child while he has his eyes closed and ask him to identify them. This will teach your child to pay attention not just to words, but also to voice modulations, tone, and other subtle aspects of speech.
  • Poems and rhymes. Teach your child poems and made-up rhymes to increase his sensitivity towards the rhythms of language and to expand his ability to notice subtleties in language. A good awareness of how language works is essential to engage in effective communication and come up as a good listener.
  • Encouraging your child to tell stories. Engage your child in conversation by asking him to tell you stories he heard somewhere else or share things that happened during the day. While he speaks, maintain eye contact and express your interest in his story through non-verbal communication such as nodding or smiling enthusiastically. This will give him an example of good listening skills, which he can later emulate. He’ll realize the value of being listened to and will seek to act in the same manner when he changes his position from that of a speaker to that of a listener.
  • Simply discuss what he likes. Talk to your child about his favorite topics and add new, more complex information to the conversation to spark his interest. Due to being invested in the topic and seeing purpose in the conversation, he’ll seek to absorb the information by listening carefully to every word you say. This is a good practice for his listening skills because it teaches your child that listening is a rewarding experience from which he can gain a lot of value.
  • Activities and instructions. Do various activities with your child during which you can play following instructions and rules. Cooking is one of the activities that truly engage listening skills. By reading the recipe to your child and asking him to help you follow each step, he’ll learn that listening carefully is an important aspect of every achievement. Besides cooking, you can play active games where you give your child interesting and entertaining directions such as spinning in a circle or making funny sounds. This kind of games change your child’s perception of active listening, and he’ll start seeing it as fun and rewarding.
  • Limiting access to TV and Internet. Limit your child’s television or Internet time. Because the TV, video games, and the Internet stream too much information, they are overly stimulating and severely affect a child’s attention span. Your child will become dependent on strong stimuli and will no longer be able to practice active listening during activities that require intense concentration such as school lessons.
  • Listening = respect. Teach your child that listening is a way to show respect to people. He must learn how to determine when he must stop talking in a conversation and when it’s his turn to speak. Teach your child that when engaged in a conversation, he must focus on what the other person says, not thinking about what he wants to say.

 

As soon as you start working with your child on developing his listening skills, you will notice a considerable increase in focus and attention span, which is a sign that your he is receptive to the lessons. Although it may take time to develop needed skills, it’s an investment for the future. Children who are good listeners grow up to be good communicators with successful personal and professional relationships.

Bio

My name is Erica Fleming. I support the effective adoption of new technologies or ways of working within writing by communicating complex information in an informative and inspiring way. I’m fond of writing articles for students, helping with essays.

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