High Five keeps parents and children coming back to Chandler Public Libraries, in person or not! High Five is an early literacy promotion that introduces five key concepts: Talk, Sing, Read, Write and Play. Read on to learn more about getting kids started on the Read skill by helping them learn to listen.
Before a child can learn to read they must learn to listen. A child’s listening comprehension impacts not only their ability to hear letter sounds, but also their ability to take in information, respond to instructions and share their ideas, thoughts and opinions, making it crucial to develop your child’s listening skills early. If your preschooler isn’t listening to you, their siblings or their friends, they will likely struggle to truly listen in school. Below are just a few ideas for developing those listening skills at home.
Make sure your conversations include “back-and-forth” dialogue
Practice pausing and leaving room for your child to reply, even during their infancy. This will prepare you for how long it can take a toddler to respond to a question or directive. (Slowly counting to five while you wait for that response from a toddler or preschooler is a good rule of thumb.) If you do not have the time to actively listen to your child, they will quickly develop the same impatience. Which could result in the opposing skill of “tuning out those around them,” including their teachers.
Encourage and model active listening
Teach your child early what active listening looks like: eyes on the speaker, hands still. Encourage your child to stop what they are doing and look at you when you are speaking. And when they have something to tell you - stop what you are doing and look directly at them. Yes, even when they are cooing and babbling as a baby or rambling incoherently as a toddler. But let’s be honest, those are the best conversations!
Set them up for success
Consider the shorter attention spans of children at different ages. Do not expect your toddler to remember long lists of directions or to sit and listen for long stretches of time. Practice active listening in shorter sessions throughout the day by having conversations about things of interest to your child. With daily practice as your child grows, so will their attention span for listening.
Make a game of it
Provide your child with paper and crayons. Give them short, simple instructions describing what you would like them to draw. Play “Simon Says” before bedtime, winner gets to pick the bedtime story. Read books that discuss the positive role that listening plays in daily life, including friendships and school success. QUIET Please, Owen McPhee!, Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns to Listenand Lily and the Yucky Cookiesare just a few to get you started.
Life with children is crazy and hectic, especially right now. We know it isn’t easy to always take that extra time to actively listen to your child or to give them slow, simple instructions when you are in a hurry, but keeping these tips in mind and working on them when you find the time to do so will go a long way toward supporting your future reader. Their future friends, teachers and spouses will thank you.