Improving Listening Skills
Often, we believe that children are not doing what we ask of them, either because they are stubborn or don’t want to do as we ask. But, young children generally like to please the important adults in their lives. They just aren’t listening well and don’t hear directions. Here are some fun listening skills activities to do with your child.
Shhh… What Do You Hear?
Help your child learn to listen carefully.
- Go for a walk and ask children to identify the different sounds they hear—natural or human-made. Can they tell from which direction the sound is coming? For example, they may hear the garbage truck coming from behind them or they may hear a bird sitting in the tree across the street.
- Ask your child to sit quietly anywhere in your home with eyes closed. What sounds does he or she hear—other people talking, the radio or television, the refrigerator turning on, or water running?
- Have your child close his or her eyes and identify the different sounds you make—ringing a bell, tapping a pencil, clicking a ballpoint pen, unzipping a zipper.
Keep track of the sounds your child identifies. Continue playing “Shhh…What do you hear?” to show how your child’s ability to listen, focus, and tell sounds apart from each other and their direction improves.
Play “Simon Says”
This simple game of “follow the leader” requires children to listen carefully. They must hear you say “Simon Says,” not just copy what you do. This helps children focus on the verbal, not just the visual. For example, if you put your hands over your ears and say, “cover your ears,” and they follow you, the game ends. But, if you put your hands over your ears and say, “Simon Says cover your ears,” and they do it, the game continues.
For older children, make the directions more complex—clap your hands and hop on one foot; or, give directions more quickly—always reminding them to move only when they hear “Simon Says.”
Reprinted with the permission of the Department of Health and Human Services.
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