Are we losing the ability to listen? I think so.
As I perused the test scores of my children, I was excited at all the areas I was seeing them succeed in with above average scores in so many areas. However, my eyes were drawn to the area in which they both fell below average. As a former teacher, and as a mom, I want to know what areas I can help my children in and… well…. let’s be quite honest, as little as they still are I was looking for the areas in which I was failing.
There it was, they were below average in the area of listening. Okay, I admit I rolled my eyes and thought, “Well, that’s no surprise!” Do you know how many times I have had to repeat instructions, only to hear that age-old excuse, “But I didn’t hear you!” YES! I know you didn’t hear me. You weren’t listening.
Then something hit me, WHY aren’t they listening? Why is this such a problem? How can we solve this?
I went online and did some research and came to a very neat article on Livestrong.com. I just love the following steps provided by them and have decided to implement them more in my family routine. I have re-listed them here and have added some of my own tools from our family toolbox.
Model active listening skills by looking at your child when she talks to you. Repeat back what your child is saying to ensure that you understand. Modeling proper listening gives your child a reference for her own listening.
Ask your child to repeat what you said after you tell her something. For example, if you asked her to pick up her dirty laundry, put it in the hamper and wash her hands for dinner, have her repeat back the three things she needs to do. This gives her a chance to process what she was told and allows you to make sure she is listening to you.
This one cracks me up at times because every once in a while your child will be caught off guard, don’t get mad but put yourself in your child’s shoes and help them to be more attentive. Remember that “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1
Have conversations with your child about topics that interest him. This gives him a chance to engage in a real conversation, practicing both speaking and listening. The conversation has a purpose for the child since it relates to a topic he enjoys.
Practice following directions in the form of a game. Give your child a direction, and have him follow it. Make the directions entertaining so the activity is enjoyable. You might have him make a funny face, spin in a circle or walk like a duck. Move to more advanced verbal directions, such as building a tower with blocks using a specific pattern.
Read stories to your child, asking her to predict what will happen next. The prediction requires her to listen to the details to make a logical guess. After reading the story, ask the child to retell the story in her own words. Another option is to have her act out the story with toys as you read it. This makes your child listen to the words and understand what the words mean.
I highly recommend a website/app called Keys for Kids. These also come in print form. I like to do these devotions with our kids and we also like to see who can guess the “key” at the end. They all get vitamins before bed so we simply play for who gets their vitamin first, nothing too big to fight over.
Borrow audio tapes of kids’ books from the library. Let your child listen to the tapes as he follows along in the story. You can also use Audible.com. I love that it gives me free books every month. You can actually Join Audible right now and get 2 free Audio Books.
Tell a story together as a group. One person starts the story, adding a few sentences. Each person adds a few more sentences to the story. Participants have to listen to what everyone else says in order to add something to the story that makes sense.
Cook with your child. Read the recipe to her, having her listen to and follow each step in order to complete the recipe correctly.
I found that many parents expect their children to do silent reading once they are able to read by themselves. My daughter is still learning to read so she has to listen to all the stories and guess what, her listening skills are great!
Many times we expect our children’s interaction with books to be a quiet, sit-down-time, which I am not against, I think it’s important to have those times as well. However, when they start reading on their own, that is usually all they do with books. There tends to be a drastic decline in read-aloud time.
We should actively help our children succeed in being good listeners, by spending the time with them and helping them become good listeners. We should also model good listening.
What are some ways you can improve your own listening skills?
Head on over to this 3 min read on 5 ways to improve your listening skills
I am setting a goal for myself here.
More read-aloud time and more Q&A with my kids. As I stated before, we are incorporating this with our Keys for Kids devotions. I HIGHLY recommend this app!
I am also challenging myself and I challenge you as well! Let’s put down our phones, computers, remote controls, or even any work we take home for 15-30 minutes each night and spend time reading to our kids. It’s important, and yes it affects them in school.
What was one of your favorite stories when you were a kid? Hunt it down, read it to your kids. Any old book can be brought back to life and your child may remember it and carry it for the rest of his/ her life.