Most parents and teachers know that getting children, especially early learners, to listen is half the battle. Listening is so much more than just hearing. It requires us to process and understand what is being said. Children zone out, flatly refuse to listen or listen selectively. Occasional moments where children hear but do not listen can be brushed off, but eventually, fine-tuning the listening skills of children will definitely make them better learners.
In this article, we will cover different ways of building listening skills in early learners.
In 1990, Susanne Poulette Truesdale, a speech-language pathologist, came up with a method called Whole Body Listening’. In this method, children are taught ‘how’ to listen. It teaches children what to do in order to listen actively. It is a teaching tool and not a rule.
‘Whole Body Listening’ talks about these behaviours to facilitate active listening:
Download the printable poster at the end of this post to reinforce ‘Whole Body Listening’ at home.
Once the child understands the ‘whole body listening’ concept and is comfortable with the process. You can introduce another technique named TALS, published in the journal of Intervention in School and Clinic. It teaches children how to process what they are hearing and fosters critical thinking.
For example, let’s say a new concept is being taught to children–perhaps how to tell time from a clock face. Before starting the session, children review the TALS strategy. Then, throughout the activity, TALS is used to help children think critically about what they are listening to. The process could look something like this: Think about clocks and time, ask why it is important, listen to the instructions and the explanation, and finally, tell yourself what you have just learnt.
‘Whole Body Listening’ and TALS are two excellent ways to imbibe listening skills in early childhood. Here are a few tips to help your child’s listening skills from the book by Diana Williams titled Early Listening Skills.
Like any other skill, listening skills require practice. Help your child be an attentive listener by consistently reminding them of these strategies and being patient. A visual reminder like this printable poster will go a long way towards building listening skills in your child.
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