Developing Effective Listening Skills in Children


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Ruhaifa Samir

Ruhaifa Samir is a mother of four, a practising Muslimah, an avid reader, and a passionate writer. She works primarily as a trainer for mothers and teachers, advocating a multi sensorial, learner-centred approach, which she has learnt through her work as a remedial specialist for children with dyslexia. She is also an author of English textbooks, based on the teachings of the Qur’an (currently under editing), and creative director of a Tafseer app for kids (soon to be launched Insha’Allah).

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Our children are the products of our very visual world. Surrounded by televisions, iPads, gaming consoles, computers, and Smartphones, their ability to listen patiently has suffered greatly. Listening is the key to following directions and developing the ability to remember concepts. It lays the foundation stones for success in school and in life, as it is the first step in developing good communication skills.

Listening involves many different aspects:

  1. Alertness: At what level is your child’s awareness of sound?
  2. Auditory acuity: How well does he hear?
  3. Sequencing: Is he able to identify the order of what he hears?
  4. Discrimination: Can he distinguish similarities and differences in sounds?
  5. Figure-ground: Can he isolate one sound from a background of sounds?
  6. Memory: Can he remember what he hears? Is he able to retrieve that information?
  7. Sound-symbol: Is he able to connect a sound to a particular written symbol?
  8. Perception: Does he comprehend what he hears?

(Adapted from Pamela Strickland, 1993, Auditory Processes, Revised Edition, Academic Therapy Publication)

Using games to teach effective listening to children is a fun way to develop auditory skills, exercise the brain’s auditory centres, and promote retention of academic content, while being fun and interesting. Games also help children to develop new vocabulary and recognize correct grammar.

Here is a list of games you can use to develop effective listening skills in your children:

  1. Copycat: Tap or clap a short rhythm pattern for your child to repeat (such as two slow claps, and then two fast claps). When your child catches on, vary the timing and loudness of taps to make new rhythm patterns.

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