Listening skills can be practiced in fun ways in the home. Since kids learn through play, here are fun ways to teach your charges to listen better.
Play a story game with your child or with the whole family. The Babycenter website suggests that one person begins a story with the sentence of his choice, and the next person adds a sentence that continues that thought. You can set a limit ahead of time for how long the story should last -- for example, fine-minutes or 10 sentences. The game helps develop listening skills because your child concentrates on someone else's words so he can form a logical sequel.
Verbal Scavenger Hunt
DISNEY FAMILY FUN recommends engaging a child in a verbal scavenger hunt to help kids learn to have good listening skills. Have the child listen as you say a list of three or four items he has to find in a room. Never repeat the list. Send him to find the items. As he becomes a more successful listener increase the number of items on the list, suggests DISNEY FAMILY FUN.
Identify a Sound
Sharpen your child's listening skills by using familiar household items, recommends the SchoolFamily website. Blindfold your child, or ask her to close her eyes. Use a common item to make a noise--for instance, run the vacuum, chop carrots with a knife, or fill a bowl with water from the sink. See whether she can identify the sound; if she can't, offer some help such as, "What do I do when Fido is thirsty?"
Play Musical Follow-The-Leader!
Univeral Preschool recommends making two identical musical instruments out of recycled products -- one for you, and one for the child. Then, make one, simple noise with your instrument and ask your child to try to imitate it with their instrument. Then, make two noises, then three, and have your child attempt to repeat the patterns you create. Let your child make up a sound pattern so that you can repeat what your child does. Variation: Sing or hum a portion of a song or tune, and ask the child to repeat it.
When you read to your child, turn it into a listening game, suggests SchoolFamily. Before you start reading, tell him you're going to zip his lips so he can listen but not talk. When he wants to say something or ask a question, he can give you a signal to unzip his lips. When he reads aloud to you, reverse roles and let him zip your lips.
Reading and Repeating
Read aloud to the child and encourage active listening. Baby Center suggests pausing during the last few pages of a book and asking your child how she thinks the story will end. Discuss her theories and how they relate to what she's heard of the story so far. This will encourage your child to listen closely and reflect upon what she's heard. Another strategy is to take out an old, familiar storybook and change a few key elements of the story while reading it to your child. This is a fun way of testing how well your child is listening. Kids usually enjoy correcting "silly" adult errors.
Play games that include giving directions. Simon Says is a popular one in which kids have to listen to the direction--and to whether you precede it with the words "Simon Says." SchoolFamily recommends another listening game that starts with a two-direction command. You tell your child to walk to the couch and run back to her chair. When she masters two steps, add more. For example, tell her to pick up a pencil, write her name and draw a circle around it.
Develop a star chart to reinforce good listening skills. Reinforcing a child's listening skills will help increase their occurrence. Include specific listening skills on the chart. When she engages that skill, she will earn a star. Allow the child to add a star to the chart herself and always tell her what she did to earn the star. Provide a larger reward to the child once she obtains a specific amount of stars.
How Many Times Do I Need to Tell You?
My idea is simply to gather some index cards. Tell your charge you are going to play a game to see if he can listen and follow directions. Whenever you give him a direction, write down on the index card how many times it takes him to do the task. For example, if you ask him to: "Put your homework in your backpack," or, "brush your teeth and hair," record how many times it takes to remind him until he actually accomplishes the task.
How Do You Get Kids to Listen?