Updated: Oct 25, 2021
"Listening skills are very important in our daily lives. We often listen simply to respond, not to actually understand what is being said. "
To learn new skills like communicating, children need to be able to listen, attend and concentrate. If listening skills are not utilized adequately, processing the information becomes a difficult task, especially in group situations.
Auditory skills development
Listening skills do not develop sequentially from one category to the next. Rather, a child might simultaneously be developing skills in two, three, or even all four categories, but at varying levels of complexity.
YOU MAY ASK WHY IS LISTENING IMPORTANT?
Children may hear what you say but not listen to what you say. The different sounds we use in our speech can sound very similar to one another during the language learning period. Listening to language involves hearing the words, attending to them, and understanding them.
Auditory processing refers to how the brain perceives and interprets sound information. Linguistic Auditory Processing is the ability to interpret, retain, organize, and manipulate spoken language for higher-level learning and communication.
SIGNS THAT YOUR CHILD HAS LISTENING DIFFICULTIES
1. Talk when should be listening
2. Has trouble following spoken directions
3. Appears inattentive or is easily distracted
4. Has trouble learning songs or nursery rhymes
5. Has a hard time remembering details of what was spoken
6. Frequently asks for repetitions/ need repetitions
FEW STRATEGIES TO ENHANCE LISTENING SKILLS
Clearly, listening is a skill that we all can benefit from improving. Given below are a few strategies to improve your child's listening skills.
- Speak slowly and enunciate clearly.
- Allow some time to let the child process what you have said.
- Be concise and direct.
- Use simple sentences for effective comprehension.
- Work in a quiet room with as few distractions as possible.
- Visual demonstrations along with oral presentations are more effective.
During individual interaction,
1. Gain eye contact with the child before giving them an instruction. For small children, get down to the child’s level. Say the child’s name to gain their attention.
2. Slow down your rate of speech and use pauses. Allow time for slower responding children to process instructions/questions.
3. Use cues. Gestures and objects help to gain the child’s attention and help them to understand.
In group situations,
1. Alternate between quiet time and listening time to give adequate rest to children.
2. Remind children to show good listening and praise them for it.
3. Give rewards to children if they are able to listen and follow the instructions.
ACTIVITIES TO ENHANCE LISTENING SKILLS
1. Hide and seek
Hide things that make a noise (e.g. a musical box). See if the child can find the toy by listening to the sound.
Hide behind a chair and make a sound (such as meow). See if the child can find you.
2. Fill mud/clay pots with different items; e.g. pebbles, etc.
Shake them and listen to the different sounds. Give one pot to the child and keep one with you; shake the pots and ask the child to identify similar sounds.
3. Play “Simon says….” Encourage the child to listen to the instruction before carrying out the action. For example, clap your hands, raise your arms, jump up high.
4. Sing action songs and rhymes.
Sing songs together such as “The Wheels on the Bus” and encourage children to join in and copy the actions. Leave pauses in the song so that the child has a chance to fill in the gaps.
Look at books/videos together and encourage the child to sit and listen and join in with their favorite parts of the story.
Read a familiar story and see if the child can spot any mistakes e.g. using the wrong character name or wrong action to the picture.
You should checkout our new Listening Challenge game!
It targets listening, language and literacy. There are three activities in this game that work on following directions, auditory comprehension, auditory memory, etc. It is also highly interactive and did we say super fun!
GAMES TO ENHANCE LISTENING SKILLS
Listening Walk: Before the walk you can suggest sounds to listen for or you can call the child's attention to sounds as you walk along. After the walk, see how many sounds your child can remember and encourage him/her to describe them.
Noisemakers: With eyes closed ask the child to identify different noises e.g. clock ticking, coins rattling, squeaky toys, paper rustling, kettle boiling etc.
Matching games: Ask the child to match pictures of objects that have either similar initial or final sounds. http://teacher.scholastic.com/clifford1/flash/phonics/index.htm
Listening games: "Simon Says" can also be played with your child imitating the speech sounds, changing the loudness, pitch and few rhythm changes.
Give your child a series of directional commands and ask him/her to follow your directions. Gradually increase the length of the sequence as your child masters each stage.
Read an unfamiliar story to your child. Afterwards ask questions about the sequence of events. Continue to ask questions until the events in the story have been reviewed. Present well-known stories, rhymes or songs with one or more parts omitted and the child must supply the missing information.
ADDITIONAL GAMES AND ACTIVITIES
1. Sound lotto game
Make the child hear everyday sounds and he/she has to match the sound with the pictures. For e.g. the sound of a cow(moo), sound of a running tap water, sound of a clicking pen. You can either use the objects to make the sound or play it from YouTube. Our favorite video to use with the kids is this.
1. One minute silence challenge
Children will be asked to remain silent for a minute and listen carefully to all the sounds around them. After one minute is up, the therapist will ask each child to name a few sounds that they could hear. For e.g. sound coming from a fan, a car horn, someone shutting the door etc.
2. Action game
Lay out 10 objects on the floor. Parents or therapists can give commands to the children. For e.g. jump on the ring, go near the hat, pick up the ball etc. The children can also take turns and give instructions. You can step it up by giving two commands together.
3. Memory game
One child has to start a sentence by saying I went to a shop and bought oranges. The other child has to listen to him and add another item along with oranges. For e.g. I went to the shop and bought oranges and milk and so on. In this way, we can work on listening as well as auditory memory.
4. Share and discuss solutions to the problem
Children can pair in partners and share one problem with each other and ask their partner what would they do? For ex: a student shares if you get stuck in a lift, what would you do? The partner has to listen to the problem and provide a solution. You can use our PROBLEM SOLVING CARDS too for this activity.
CLASSROOM MODIFICATIONS TO FACILITATE BETTER LISTENING
A student with auditory processing difficulties would benefit from the following modifications in the classroom:
A classroom set-up with as minimum background noise as possible:
Covering the wall/floor with objects like curtains, carpets, etc will help reduce noise and reverberation.
The classroom should be away from noisy areas outside (roads) and within (entrance, recreation or music room).
Make the child sit nearer to the teacher and away from noisy sources like the fans, windows, etc.
Make sure there's adequate lighting so that the child can observe facial movements of the teacher to better understand speech.
Make sure to keep the child away from sources of visual distraction hence shifting attention towards auditory information.
If the audiologist has identified a 'weaker' ear on evaluation, seating should be such that that the better ear is towards the speaker.
You can also schedule a 15mins consultation with us below to understand and explore how our speech therapy experts can help you reach your child's speech and language milestones.
HELPFUL TECHNIQUES WHILE IN CLASSROOM
Make sure that the student's attention is towards you before giving any instructions.
Speak clearly, slowly, and in simple sentences.
Give clear and concise instructions.
Provide a gist of the activity beforehand so the student can prepare.
Limit the amount of verbal information given at one time
Stress the relevant parts of the explanation.
Avoid giving instructions when there is a high level of background noise.
Use visual aids (written, models/diagrams, facial expression, etc).
Monitor student's behavior (blank look, lack of concentration, fatigue, etc).
Encourage the student to become an active listener i.e. monitoring on their own and to ask relevant questions to obtain the extra information.
Consistently revise complex information. Auditory memory is aided by association with rhythm, so facts can be put into simple rhythms and tunes.
We also provide a comprehensive parent training program where we along with you develop goals for your child, share a plan to achieve them. We think parents are the best therapists for the child and we want to empower you to work effectively with the child at home.
If you aren't sure if your child has listening difficulties, then you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or WhatsApp us on +919967117478.