8 Listening Activities for Kids
Listening comprehension is more than simply hearing what is being said. It involves:
- the ability to take in information
- the ability to respond to instructions
- the ability to share ideas, thoughts and opinions.
Overall, listening comprehension is the ability to understand the meaning of words heard and to then be able to relate to them in some way. When your child hears a story, listening comprehension allows them to understand it, remember it, talk about it and even retell it in their own words.
Children who are good listeners often grow up to become good communicators. It's an important skill to develop at an early age and, like a muscle, it needs regular exercise to grow stronger. Below are eight everyday ways you can help build your child's listening comprehension skills at home.
1. Get their full attention
Encourage your child to look at you when they listen. Their full attention is important, and this gets them into the habit of giving their full attention to what's being said.
2. Make reading an interactive activity
While reading aloud, stop before turning the page and ask, “What do you think will happen next?” Ask your child to explain their answer to see how well they've been listening. If they haven't been listening, avoid criticising and instead, aim to get them into a fun habit of predicting what will happen next.
3. Play listening games
Games like Simon Says helps your child build listening comprehension skills in a fun and rewarding way. You can even make up your own listening games at home. For example, ask your child to find objects around the house by giving them two‑part verbal instructions, then gradually progress to three‑part, four‑part, and so on.
4. Play “story chain”
This is a fun activity that the whole family can play together. Have one person start an original story by saying one line (e.g. “Once upon a time, there was a bear who lived in a cave”). Then go around in a circle so that each person contributes a sentence to the story.
5. Place an emphasis on common speech signals
Help your child listen out for important cues by placing an emphasis on common speech signals when you talk. These could include words like ‘now’, ‘next’ and ‘finally’.
6. Help your child to build their vocabulary
Children can get stuck on a word they don't understand and end up missing the rest of what's being said. Use books, games, flashcards, charts and online programs like ABC Reading Eggs to build your child's vocabulary, and don't forget to read together regularly.
7. Be a good listener too
Avoid interrupting your child when they are talking and show them that you're listening to what they have to say. Give positive indicators like nodding, smiling, saying supporting words, and following up with questions or elaborating on what they have said to show interest.
8. Remember that most young children have short attention spans
Don't expect your child to process information if it is lengthy, out of context, or not particularly interesting to them. Focus on building learning comprehension skills in a fun and supportive way and remember to always be patient.