Children Developing Listening Skills

The Process of Developing Listening Skills in Children

The ListenLoveLearn® process of developing listening skills is a step-by-step path that will unlock your child’s true potential for language, academic success, and effective social interaction. With our supportive, knowledgeable community, parents will be empowered to help their children develop and thrive.

The act of listening—using our ears and mind together to interpret and experience sound and language in the fullest possible way—is one of life’s greatest pleasures and the most valuable learning tool.

Whether a child is developing typically, has an identified hearing loss, or is challenged by an auditory processing disorder (APD), the child must learn to listen effectively to be able to sit and participate in the auditory environment of a school setting. In short, listening is the key to success. Listening skills can, and must, be learned so your child can grow and learn.

The mission of ListenLoveLearn® is to teach parents all about active listening – providing the tools you need to understand your child’s developmental needs and to interact with your child in a focused way that will enhance his or her auditory skills. The process of ListenLoveLearn is as comforting and rewarding to parents as it is transformative. It gives straight-forward advice and strategies, paired with detailed activities to help you connect with your child through games, reading, rhyming and playing, providing the auditory input and listening skills your child needs.

Once you understand how a child learns to listen and uses listening to learn, you’re on your way to a new perspective in your child’s development. And, as a parent, you’ll be empowered to have the positive impact on your child that you desire.

Join us on this exciting path of learning to listen…and listening to learn.

Developing Listening Skills

A child’s listening and language skills naturally grow based on their exposure to quality sound stimulation. Every time you speak and listen to your child you are conducting a lesson. Intentionally or not, whether at home or in the car, at dinner or bedtime, while reading a story to them or asking them how their day was, you are demonstrating how to fine tune their listening skills. Every parent needs to be aware of this responsibility. A child’s developmental appetite for language and sound needs feeding. Throughout the day, no matter how mundane or off the cuff the activities, when you speak and listen together you are feeding that appetite.

If your child has been diagnosed with an Auditory Processing Disorder, or an audiologist believes that your child would benefit from working with a speech pathologist in the developmental areas that APD affects, you will receive specific, specialized instruction, training, and advice tailored to your child’s individual needs. That will include specific exercises that address your child’s areas of need and realistic goals for improvement.

Make listening and learning fun with an everyday activity

No matter how much they may enjoy school, it’s still a child’s job and their work. After working hard all day in school odds are your son or daughter will want to come home and relax. Depending on what your child’s speech pathologist has told you, the kinds of listening lessons you and your child do together are probably best incorporated into daily living activities like, cooking, chores, bed time reading, etc. The goal is to make listening skill building as fun as possible. Since you’re working together to make listening second nature, you should go about it as naturally and pleasantly as you can.

The right shared listening space

Set up a listening environment within your home, that’s as quiet as you can arrange. In modern homes, it’s often hard to find a room or space that’s both quiet and free of visual distractions and foot traffic. Over the years I’ve learned to pick a space that has as neutral a sound and look as possible. Echo-y, noisy spaces, brightly colored rooms, or rooms with large windows can distract from the job of listening at hand. I’ve worked with children in bedrooms, parents’ home offices, rec-rooms, basements, laundry rooms, hallways that aren’t used much, even bathrooms when that’s the quietest room available.

  • Turn off any audible TV’s and radios and make sure the phone’s ringer is off.
  • Sit next to your child so that he or she will concentrate on sound rather than on your expressions.
  • Try to sit with your backs to open doors, busy patterned wall coverings, mirrors etc. to minimize visual distractions.
  • Work at a table with the book, toys, game or pictures you’re working with in front of the two of you.
How to create a listening space for children

Once a child is successful with activities in a quite setting, you can introduce background noise. Using very light background noise can help desensitize your child to sounds that interfere with their ability to listen in genuinely noisy environments. Introduce instrumental music, then songs with words and then talking from the radio or don’t over control natural environmental sounds ( ie: keep a window or room door open).

The way to play

  1. Begin working with games and activities that pair sounds and language with visual aids such as toys, pictures, or written word and sentences. As your child grows more successful, phase out visually cued activities in favor of auditory-only. .
  2. Try not to unnecessarily repeat directions or a word you want the child to listen to. Instead, pause after individual instructions or words and give your child(ren) chances to respond.
  3. Praise is important – reinforce success. “Great, let’s try it again”, “wow”, and “yes” all send a succinct positive message.
  4. Over-praise is counterproductive. Telling your child she is “the smartest little girl in the whole wide world!” shifts focus from your child(ren) feeling successful at a given task to their working toward praise and approval alone. You’ll recognize how much praise is enough for your child.
  5. Follow a time limit. Don’t overwork each other. Listening is difficult and inherently exhausting for a child with APD. Begin with 10-15 minutes per activity and try to end before it’s clear that your child needs it to end.
  6. Start with success. Your child will probably need to make a word and image connection in order to understand things at first. It’s important to begin things on a successful note to build enthusiasm, so use pictures as much as is necessary at first. If you start with no visual reference your child’s hearing weakness may make the chosen activity more of a test than a game. Always begin where the child can meet success and then slowly increase the level of difficulty.

A step-by-successful-step learning process encourages
confidence in developing new skills.

From Rosie O’Donnell:

quotes There are so many different disorders and names for listening and learning problems for kids nowadays that they tend to lump them into one big group. When it’s your own kid you sometimes can’t see it.

The first thing that I would say to the parent of a kid with APD or listening issues is turn off the TV and turn off the computer. That’s the biggest thing. Just what the commercials alone do to kids who have focus issues – you know, when there are words going by at the bottom of the screen and all this fast talking at different volume levels? It’s too fast for kids’ brains. You’re saying you can’t teach your children to focus? Turn off the TV is a start, you know? Read to them every night, have conversations with your kids, and they’ll learn to focus better. That’s a huge thing.

the sound of hope

If your child is diagnosed with APD or demonstrates listening challenges, suggestions and the exercises in “The Sound of Hope” will help you to help your child(ren) build and develop listening skills and strategies.

The Sound of Hope: Recognizing, Coping with and Treating Your Child’s Auditory Processing Disorder, by Lois Kam Heymann, M.A., CCC-SLP, is the first practical guide to help parents improve their children’s listening skills so they can communicate clearly, interact well and fare better in school—whether the child has a diagnosed disorder, learning disability, or slow language development. In addition to the insights and knowledge of this veteran speech therapist, the book also contains a stirring foreword by her star parent-client, Rosie O’Donnell.

Buy the Book Today

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Lois Kam Heymann

Lois Kam Heymann

M.A. CCC-SLP, is a Speech and Language Pathologist with over 30 years experience working with children with listening, hearing and learning challenges and their parents.

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