Tips for Teaching Listening Skills to Children

A child cusping her hand over her ear to indicate she is listening well
Building listening skills is very important for children and adults.  After-all, who doesn't want to be heard?  When we are heard, we may feel validated, connected to others, and understood.  When we are ignored, we may feel forgotten, frustrated, or angry.  So the simple solution would be to listen to others, and act accordingly.  But that may be easier said than done.  For being a good listener doesn't always come naturally to everyone.  So what gets in the way of practicing good listening skills?

  • Distractions
  • Being stubborn/set in one's ways
  • Not being fully present
  • Uninterested in the topic of conversation
  • Feeling tired or unwell
  • Making judgements
  • Having a physical, mental, or behavioral impairment that makes listening to others more difficult
I believe that the key to happiness, both personally and professionally is rooted in the connections made to one another.  When we feel connected, we are much more likely to understand, and get along well with others.  This also applies to the relationship between teachers and their students, and parents and their children.  Since we recognize it's a benefit to listen well to others, and feel heard, how do we teach this skill to children?  These tips may help...
  1. Give undivided attention
  2. Remove distractions
  3. Stay focused
  4. Show interest
  5. Show curiosity
  6. Show empathy
  7. Don't interrupt
  8. Think and care about what has been said
  9. Ask questions
  10. Practice active listening skills
  11. Use body language including: Leaning forward a little, providing eye contact, using appropriate facial expressions, nodding, not fidgeting, placing hands on laps or in packets, facing the person
And here are a few fun listening and focusing activities to try with kids...
  • Go on a listening field trip on school grounds, a park, or neighborhood.  Record and discuss sounds heard.
  • Play attention, focus, and memory games.  One game can be to show children items on a tray for a short period of time.  Then put items away, and ask children to recall as much as they can. 
  • Act out a listening story.  Children have to pay close attention to what they hear and quietly act out the story as they hear it. 
Those and other activities are discussed more in my Listening Skills Packet, which also includes printables, posters, awards, and more!

A listening skills teaching packet with printables, worksheets, and posters



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