8 Ways to Help Your Kid Become a Better Listener

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Listening is not the same thing as hearing. Hearing is a passive activity. For example, children hear thunder, the car engine humming and bees buzzing. Listening involves active participation of their brain, meaning what they hear must register in their brain.

Many children struggle when it comes to learning how to listen, but it is an extremely important skill — one that is closely related to academic success in school. Help improve your children’s listening skills through activities that are fun. Try some of these with your child to help him become a better listener:

1. Make a habit of reading to your child and pausing to ask questions about what has been read.

2. Make a deliberate error in what you are reading and see if your child catches it. For example, call the Cat in the Hat a dog in the hat.

3. Play Simon Says, 20 Questions and Junior Trivial Pursuit.

4. Share family activities at the dinner table.

5. Talk to your child about activities that interest him or her.

6. Clap your hands in different patterns, and have your child imitate them. Then add thigh claps and/or head taps.

7. Listen to a favorite TV program for a few minutes, then have your child shut his or her eyes and identify the speakers.

8. Start a story at the supper table. Each family member ends a sentence with “then.” The next person completes the sentence and ends it with “then” until everyone at the table has added something to the story.

And with teaching any behavior, be a role model. Be sure that you listen to what your child is saying. Set a good example by making eye contact with your child and responding to what the child says.

Marge Eberts and Peggy Gisler are experienced teachers who have more than 60 publications to their credit.