Four Activities to Help Develop your Child's Listening Skills
How important are listening skills for my child’s development?
Developing a strong foundation in this area supports your child in almost all areas of their development and they are particularly important for;
- Developing social skills
- Listening out for danger and instructions that will keep them safe
- Developing literacy skills
How can I help my child learn listening skills?
As children’s language skills develop and they begin to form words and attempt to communicate, there is a golden rule here to support your child’s development… always allow them to finish what they are saying. My top tip for this is to count to (at least) ten in your head. By doing this we show children that their communication attempts are valid, and you value what they have to say. Not only that, it also models good listening skills, which as busy parents sometimes, we all need a reminder to slow down and take the time to tune in.
Four activities to help your child develop listening through play…
Go on a nature walk
Nature provides us with so many learning opportunities, particularly when we tune into the sounds of the natural world. You don’t need anything special for this activity, just a pair of ears and time to explore! Everyone can get involved, from young babies to grandparents, just find a quiet spot to sit and simply listen. By doing this kind of activity with your children not only will they gain benefits from being outside, but you will also be supporting their developing literacy skills by working on something known as ‘sound discrimination’. If children are able to begin to pick up on the difference between a bird tweeting, and wind through the trees, for example, this will support their reading and writing skills when they are trying to break down phonetic sounds at school.
Make opportunities for listening
Within the middle of our Nesting Babies, we have a chiming Bo Bunny. Bo serves as great motivation to encourage children to use their fine and gross motor skills to get to the middle and hear his lovely chime. This is great for listening skills as the closer they get to Bo, the louder the chimes become. But, did you know you can extend this play by using your other Nesting Babies? Filling them with items such as dried pasta will make some great homemade shakers! Another way to really encourage some deep level exploration and investigation with your children is to put something soft such as cotton wool that doesn’t make much sound- or perhaps nothing at all. See if your child comes up with an idea of what they could put inside to make a noise! Having them get involved in this way and lead the play is where really deep level learning occurs.
Photo create @create_make_and_play
3. Reading to your child
Reading tends to be an activity that you do with your child when things are a bit quieter and calmer. We do this so that children can listen, so by its very nature reading is a wonderful activity that’s designed to boost these skills. When you are building up a child’s listening skills it’s important to choose books that aren’t too complicated in illustration or text. The simple illustration will allow children to tune into what you are saying and use their imagination to create the story. Simple, repetitive language means that children will start to remember, understand and use the words. They might even be able to finish off the sentences that they are familiar with in time- this is a wonderful sign of children’s developing listening skills. Our Rosa & Bo board book is designed to be both simple in illustration and text to support children’s developing listening skills.
Photo credit @bellami.and.mummy
4. Singing to your child
Singing is such a brilliant, easy way to boost your child’s listening skills. Songs that involve sounds such as Hickery, Dickery, Dock, Jelly on a Plate, and Old MacDonald had a farm are especially good for children to tune into sounds. Encouraging children to come up with sounds for animals that are more unusual in Old MacDonald, for example; a turtle or a narwhal, is really fun, interactive and usually leads to more exploration and discovery (and I often learn something new too!). For younger children who need some support to come up with unusual animals, our Woodland Friends Nesting Babies would be a brilliant support prop to encourage your child to use their imagination and get interact in this game!
It’s important to remember that all children develop differently, and if you have any concerns at all about your child’s development, contact your GP or your child’s Health Visitor.
This blog has been written by our Resident Play Expert here at Rosa & Bo, Sarah Doman. Sarah is a Hypnobirth and Early Years Expert. She helps families from pregnancy to children of school age to give birth and parent with confidence.
You can find her on social media @sarahldoman or check out her website here.