Children and Good Listening
According to Karnosfsky and Weiss, many factors can interfere with a child’s ability to listen. If a child isn’t listening, he may then respond in inappropriate ways that may look like deliberate misbehavior. A child may be tired, ill, or suffering from poor nutrition and lack the physical energy to pay attention.
The child may be under stress or be experiencing emotional problems at home. Also, the child may not be in the habit of listening at home (or even expected to listen). Other factors, a misunderstanding of the language, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), physical hearing problems, or being on the autism spectrum can all interfere with the ability to listen.
Exercises for Listening
Directions – Give a series of directions, once, and ask the child to follow them. Start with simple directions with just a few steps and then expand the number of steps.
Who? What? When? Where? Why? – Tell the child that you will read him a story and then ask five question – who, what, when, where, and why. Read a story. When done, ask the child to answer those five questions.
I’m Going on a Trip – With a group, one person starts by saying, “I’m going on a trip and I’m taking an apple.” The next person repeats that line and adds another object that begins with the next letter in the alphabet. Continue from person to person, adding to the list of items.
Mix-up – List a series or four or five words that would form a sentence if put in the proper order. Have the child listen to the words and then decide on the correct order.
Little Words – Before reading a story, select a word or kind of word that the child will count while listening to the story (animals, weather words, emotions, etc.). Have the child make a mark on a piece of paper to tally each time they hear one of these words.
Arrange the Objects – Place six-to-twelve objects randomly on a table and name the objects. Then, ask the child to pick up and name the objects in the order they were named by the adult.
Adults and children can work together to practice good communication skills. Listening Activities and Games for Preschooler can also be used with slightly older children as can Listening to Nature Activities. All of these games can be played at home or at school, some with a single child and others with a group.