To be able to listen to and recognise a variety of environmental sounds.
Hark! A motor was what my Grandma used to say as she heard a car pull up outside the house. It took sometime for me to realise she was saying, ‘Listen, a car’ referring to the fact that my Uncle would be popping in for a cuppa. ‘Hark! A motor’ will always hold a special place in my heart. I digress…
It may appear that listening is something that should come naturally to children and it isn’t necessary to learn this skill.
In my opinion, developing good listening skills is one of the most important components to becoming a competent and independent learner. Without the skill of listening, being able to recognise, mimic and say sounds becomes extremely difficulty.
The first step in learning phonics is to be able to listen and then identify any sounds heard.
A dog barking
A plane flying
If you can hear a sound, listen with your child. Stay still and quiet and put your hand to your ear when you hear the sound, maybe a dog barking.
Out and About
When you are out and about, encourage listening! Discuss sounds that you can hear
“I can hear a dog barking, can you?”
“What can you hear when you listen carefully?”
As children get more proficient at listening ask more probing question such as
“Why do you think that dog is barking?”
“Where could that plane be flying to?”
This is predicting and is a great skill to have. The earlier it can be learnt the better. Prediction helps in all areas of learning.
Play ‘Simon Says’. This is such a simple game but has great potential for learning a plethora of skills, not just in phonics.
Music and singing are wonderful learning activities.
Use a variety of instruments to make different sounds, loud, quiet, long, short, boom, clang, rustle, whistle etc. Children can listen to the sounds or make them using the different instruments.
Try to make a quiet sound with a loud instrument e.g. drum/symbols, or a loud sound with a quiet instrument, e.g. small shakers etc.
Try making different sounds using the body (not the voice), clap, whistle, click, whoosh, slap, etc. Then add the voice, you have a one man band at your fingertips!
Learning the sounds that animals make is a favourite with children and they will pick up and use these sounds readily. ‘Old MacDonald had a farm’ is a great way to combine animal sounds and singing.
There isn’t anything better than getting outside and listening to ‘real’ sounds but if that can’t happen there are some games and CDs available that do a good job. Some of them will give you a bit of time as the children can play on their own.
These are from Amazon.
Don’t skip or skimp on developing listening skills.
Gradually increase the listening time. This helps with gaining concentration skills.
If you feel your child doesn’t always listen to you, and I can understand this, why not introduce a puppet to speak for you.
Young children are easily distracted and will happily walk away from an exciting activity if something else catches their attention.
Talk to children at their own level, using eye contact.
A good listener learns constantly.
Listening is much hard to master than talking so spend time helping your child to perfect the skill.