We hear sounds (like birds chirping) and voices (like a teacher giving a homework assignment), but do we really listen?
Carole Elkeles is a retired educator who believes that if kids know how to listen, both school and life will be easier to handle. She says, “Listening skills are learned…and listening is basic for communicating, learning, thinking and acquiring awareness of the world around you.
Learning to listen can help increase the quality of relationships, reduce misunderstandings and improve productivity in the classroom or the workplace.
In her article “Listening Games and Activities,” Elkeles says that the skill of listening can be honed in about five minutes a day. It starts with knowing what types of listening skills need to be developed. Here are the five skills:
- Sound discrimination (What sounds are the same? What sounds are different?)
- Awareness of sounds (What sounds are heard in various situations?)
- Recognition of sounds (Which of these sounds is like buzz? hum? click?)
- Identification of sounds (Name this sound. Name item making sound or letter sound.)
- Sound concepts (Is it high or low? Loud or soft? Near or far?)
Try some of these fun activities with your kids:
- To work on sound discrimination: Discriminate high and low sounds (with voice, or musical instruments). Or, match sounds. Fill small identical containers with rice, sand, nails, beans, cotton batting, etc. Make sure you have a pair. Shake them, and then find the two that sound the same.
- To work on awareness of sounds: Close your eyes and listen to the sounds heard in one minute. Or, recognize well-known sounds, like the ones we hear at home. For this activity you will need a tape with different sounds such as a tap running, flushing the toilet, vacuum cleaner, etc.
- To work on recognition of sounds: Listen to the sound that common appliances make. Invent a word that names the sound. As an added activity, children name the appliance together with the sound they invented. “The car goes _____.”
- To work on recognition of sounds: Finish the sentence with a word beginning with the same letter as the others. (e.g., Silly Sally saw seven…swings.)
- To work on sound concepts: Discover where a sound originates. (Close your eyes and listen carefully. “Where is it coming from and where is it going?”)