Literacy Report

Getting it right in English!


How can parents model good listening skills?




Do listening skills affect learning? 

Listening isn't a school subject like reading and writing. Some may feel it comes naturally and that as long as we can listen to directions, nothing more needs to be said. Listening is a very large part of school learning and is one of our primary means of interacting with other people on a personal basis. It's estimated that between 50 and 75 percent of students' classroom time is spent listening to the teacher, to other students, or to audio media.


Can parents guide their children to better listening? 

According to research on listening skills, being a good listener means focusing attention on the message and reviewing the important information. Parents can model good listening behaviour for their children and advise them on ways to listen as an active learner, pick out highlights of a conversation, and ask relevant questions. Sometimes it helps to "show" children that an active listener is one who looks the speaker in the eye and is willing to turn the television off to make sure that the listener is not distracted by outside interference.


Guidelines for Good ListeningBe interested and attentive. Your child can tell whether they has your interest and attention by the way you reply or not. Forget about the telephone and other distractions. Maintain eye contact to show that you really are with your child.


Encourage talking. Some children need an invitation to start talking. You might begin with, "Tell me about your day at school." Children are more likely to share their ideas and feelings when others think them important.


Listen patiently. People think faster than they speak. With limited vocabulary and experience in talking, children often take longer than adults do to find the right word. Listen as though you have plenty of time.


Hear children out. Avoid cutting children off before they have finished speaking. It's easy to form an opinion or reject children's views before they finish what they have to say. It may be difficult to listen respectfully and not correct misconceptions, but respect their right to have and express their opinions.


Suggestions for Improving CommunicationBe interested. Ask about your child's ideas and opinions regularly. If you show them that you're really interested in what they think and feel, and want to know what their opinions are, they will become comfortable about expressing their thoughts to you.


Avoid dead-end questions. Ask your child the kinds of questions that will extend interaction rather than cut it off. Questions that require a yes or no or right answer lead a conversation to a dead end. Questions that ask them to describe, explain, or share ideas prolong the conversation.


Extend conversation. Try to pick up a piece of your child's conversation. Respond to their statements by asking a question that restates or uses some of the same words they used. When you use your child's own phrasing or terms, you strengthen their confidence in their conversational and verbal skills and reassure them that their ideas are being listened to and valued.


Share your thoughts. Share what you are thinking with your child. For instance, if you are puzzling over how to rearrange your furniture, get your child involved with questions such as, "I'm not sure where to put this shelf. Where do you think would be a good place?"


Reflect feelings. One of the most important skills of good listeners is the ability to put themselves in someone else's shoes -- empathizing with the speaker by attempting to understand his thoughts and feelings. As a parent, try to mirror your child's feelings by repeating them. You might reflect her feelings by commenting, "It sounds as if you're angry with your math teacher." Restating or rephrasing what your child said is useful when she is experiencing powerful emotions that she may not be fully aware of.


Help clarify and relate experiences. As you listen, try to make your child's feelings clear by stating them in your own words. Your wider vocabulary can help them express themselves as accurately and clearly as possible and give them a deeper understanding of words and inner thoughts.


Parents Are Key in Building Children's Communication Skills Parents play an essential role in building children's communication skills because kids spend more time with their parents than with any other adult. Children also have a deeper involvement with their parents than with any other adult and the family as a unit has lifelong contact with its members. Parents control many of the contacts a child has with society, as well as society's contacts with the child.

Adults, parents, and teachers set a powerful example of good or poor communication. Communication skills are influenced by the examples children see and hear. Parents and teachers who listen to their children with interest, attention, and patience set a good example. The greatest audience children can have is an adult who is important to and interested in them.











Sarah Mills