The winter months are ideal for working on auditory processing skills with your little one. Being “housebound” due to inclement weather can get a little boring by the time February rolls around, so let’s add some fun to those dreary winter days and help your child beef up his listening skills.
“Good listening” involves two skill sets that are actually intertwined. Children must be willing to listen and follow directions and they must be able to understand the words spoken to them (a skill called auditory processing) so that they can respond appropriately.
I also believe that the “willing to listen” component of “good listening” can be influenced by habits. Children can easily get into the habit of ignoring a parent’s verbal requests and parents can get into the habit of repeating requests so that children don’t have to listen the first time. Can you see a cycle here? If you are like most parents (and I was like this, too, until I learned!), you hear yourself asking and asking and then pleading for your child to follow your directions.
If this repetition cycle sounds familiar or if you want to help your child beef up his auditory processing skills, read on for some fun tips and activities.
- Play the classic game of “Simon Says.” As you play, make the directions more complicated to challenge your child to listen carefully.
- Clearly state one-step directions and expect your child to follow them. Look at your child when you speak to him and ask him to look back at you, as well. Often, crouching beside a child so that your heads are at the same level when you speak does a lot to grab a child’s attention. You can ask him to repeat the directions to you before he complies with your request to be sure that he understands your words. Avoid the temptation to repeat your words if your child seems to ignore you.
- Play “Treasure Hunt” by hiding items or toys around your house. Then give your child verbal directions to help him find the item. For example, you might say: “Find the red toy train under the sofa in the family room.”
- Hand your child a coloring book page and some crayons. Then tell him he is going to make a silly picture by following your directions. Ask him to color specific parts of the picture in specific ways. For instance, you might ask your child to put blue polka dots on the dog’s ears and color the doghouse with purple stripes. You get the idea. The sillier your directions, the more fun your child will have.
- Get into the habit of discussing picture books when you read to your child. You can choose to read the book through without stopping to give your child the opportunity to appreciate the essence and the rhythm of the book. Then you can ask some questions about what you read and/or let your child retell the story in his own words. You can also pause several times as you read and ask your child questions about what you have read to that point. Then ask him to make predictions about what might happen next.
- Encourage your child to “listen the first time” by giving him choices. For example, you might ask if he prefers waffles or cereal for breakfast. But only offer the choice one time. You can ask him to repeat his options to be sure that he heard you speaking. (As stated earlier, looking at your child while you speak and asking him to look at you also helps get his attention.) Give him his choice if he responds to your question. If he does not answer you, then calmly make the choice for him. Your child will quickly learn the importance of listening to your words the first time they are spoken.
- Introduce auditory processing worksheets to find 53 fun worksheets with additional tips to help your child practice responding to the words he hears.