Welcome to Children’s Listening Skills Blog
This is a new Blog to introduce you all to my favorite topic: Developing Listening Skills for all Children.
Having been a Speech-Language Pathologist specializing in developing auditory skills in children for over 40 years, authoring a book on the topic Sound of Hope, and presenting
workshops, professional development seminars and parent meetings (whew!)- it is now time to
spread this information far and wide.
Did you know Listening Skills are the most used and least taught skill your child will need to academic and social success? (It’s true!)
Did you know that developing listening skills are foundational skills for developing attention, language, memory, and comprehension skills? (It’s true!)
Did you know that listening skills begin building at birth and don’t stop developing through your child’s/student’s adolescence? (It’s true!)
And finally…Did you know that helping your child and/or your student is so much fun? (True! True! True!)
Please join me as I take you through this adventure in listening- you can find me twice a month.
Let’s start at the beginning-
Hearing Isn't Listening
Baby Chloe has just arrived back from the birthing center to begin her life at home with her family. Pink and wrinkled, Chloe sleeps from meal to meal cries when she’s hungry and happily burbles and waves her tiny hands and feet when she’s awake. She’s her parent’s first child and her mother and father are over the moon about what a lovely happy baby they’ve been blessed with. Over the weeks ahead they both make sure to pick her up, gently tickle her, and let her tiny waving hands tug and fingers touch theirs. Their doctor has told them that the more physical stimulation they give their baby as she grows, the closer she’ll bond with them and the happier she’ll be. Chloe’s grandparents also said how important is to make physical contact with an infant. As they interact physically with their daughter Chloe’s parents can’t help talking to her constantly, telling her how pretty she is, narrating for her as they prepare bottles, feed her, change her and play with her. What Chloe’s parents don’t know is that even at only a few days old talking to and interacting verbally with their tiny little daughter is just as important as the tickling, and handling their parents and doctor talked about. Though Chloe is still many months away from saying her first words, she is already hearing everything happening near her and a lifetime of hearing, listening and understanding and interacting with the world around Chloe has already begun.
People talk about “listening passively” – sitting and taking in a sound, noise, or something that’s been said without reacting to it. But in strict biological terms, there is no such thing as “passive listening” – least of all in a newborn. Any sound we hear puts billions of brain cells to work decoding and identifying what it is and what it means – no matter how trivial the source may be. As automatic and miraculous and easy to take for granted as it seems, hearing is always working toward the active skill of listening.
As parents we work with, play with, and encourage our children to develop all sorts of basic skills whether it’s walking and running, using a fork, throwing a ball, tying shoes, reading, riding a bike. The examples we set, the time we share, and the work that we do with our kids forms a direct link between a child’s latent and evolving ability to do these things successfully and their ultimate fulfillment of that potential on their way to adulthood. What’s unfortunately often overlooked is that parents can make an enormous contribution to helping develop the basic skill of listening. Mothers and fathers share an amazing opportunity to assist their kids in fine-tuning, deepening, exploring, and perfecting their listening skills from birth and infancy and into childhood and through the school-aged years.
Little Chloe was born already wired with the potential to take in the sounds in their environment. The noise of a vacuum cleaner, a bird’s song, the sound of their parent’s voice – a baby experiences these things from day 1. When mothers, fathers , caregivers become aware that their child is learning to listen from the very start of life, they can become instrumental in seeing to it that those active listening skills get every opportunity to focus and grow. With the right preparations and encouragement, their child will have the finest listening tools possible for school readiness and the social experiences they will encounter into adulthood.
A Nourishing Sensory Diet
Babies encounter and input sights, sounds, feelings, smells and tastes every second of every day. Everything influences an infant – when a baby is picked up, how it is held, how it is fed, bathed and changed, and how it is talked to. Each of these sensory encounters is stored in the child’s brain and as that stockpile of information and sensation grows, so do the connections in the baby’s brain. Parents are the gatekeepers between their children and the wide world of sensory experience that an infant is born ready to absorb. How a parent interacts with their baby directly affects the types and strength of those connections. These days most parents consciously monitor and control what their toddler sees on TV, what a ‘tween or teen reads, sees at the multiplex or looks at on the internet. But the truth is, whether they know it or not, parents control most of what their children have heard and experienced since birth. A baby’s listening environment needs to be monitored as surely as the temperature of their living environment. How well that control is maintained governs how the child will use and apply their latent listening potential down the line.
An infant’s auditory diet can begin with singing and rocking your baby. Any song you sing is auditory stimulation. Paired with rocking gives the baby the sound plus the movement. Simple-profound-fun!
Of course, this journey will be continued in the next blog.