One of the key skills for children starting school is being able to listen and follow instructions. After all, school involves a lot of listening!
If your child has attended nursery or a pre-school setting, they will have had opportunities to develop these skills already, but all children will benefit from time spent practising listening skills and developing good attention and concentration with support from their parent or carer.
Before starting school, children also need to get used to transitions between different activities. If you find your child is often so absorbed in an activity that they get very upset when it’s time to tidy up, make sure you start giving them a five minute warning before the time they will need to stop.
Here are some suggestions for helping your child become a good listener:
- Play lots of games which involve listening to different words and sounds, and recalling information. For example ‘I Spy’, ‘I went to the shops and I bought…’ and ‘Simon Says’
- Read stories and rhymes together in a quiet environment where they can concentrate on what you’re saying. Stop at different points in the story and ask them to say what they think is going to happen next. At the end, see if they can recall what happened
- Although many reading and story apps are available, children learn best when reading with a ‘real’ person
- Be a good listener yourself – get down to their level to talk to them about a game they’re playing, and make sure that when they’re talking to you, you make eye contact with them so they know they have your attention
- Use dinner times as an opportunity to talk as a family about the highs and lows of your day, to celebrate achievements and make plans. Ask your child to tell you what they have enjoyed
- If children are playing and talking, a bright, noisy TV is very distracting. Avoid having it on just in the background
- Try to limit screen time as a family, both for you and your child, so your attention is fully on each other
- Go on a ‘sound walk’ together – how many different sounds can they hear in the environment?
If you have any concerns about your child’s hearing, talk to your health visitor or GP in the first instance.