Listening is a skill that needs to be learnt and is an import element in learning to communicate with others. Learning to listen and focus on one person’s voice or sound can be very difficult in our often noisy society. There are so many distractions and demands on our children that learning to listen effectively and filter out other noises can be very difficult for many. It is not surprising that often children fail to develop the skills of listening for any period of time.
The usual approach to teaching children to listen is based on three behaviours :
However just because your child is replicating these behaviours doesn’t mean they are listening.
It is also surprising how often children are happy to follow step 1 and 2 but completely miss step 3.
This is not surprising really as listening is not a set of behaviours but a set of skills that need to be taught and developed, starting from birth.
Listening is a complicated skill that requires children to learn how to pay attention – being able to focus on a particular voice or sound by filtering out other voices and ambient noises. They then have to concentrate on the voice or sounds to take in the information, building the stamina needed to listen for extended periods of time. Then they have to interpret that information to gain meaning – comprehension.
A child with poor listening skills will find it difficult to complete tasks, as they have not taken in all the information and so not understood the full extent of the task, or what was required of them. This can lead to a child flitting from one activity to another and never finishing anything, slowing down their learning. They also miss out on the sense of achievement and feeling of pride when a task is completed. This helps to build a child’s confidence, self-esteem and self-motivation to try again or attempt a more challenging task.
Good listening skills do not develop naturally they have to be taught!