We all want our children to be better listeners. Teachers often say they want their students to be better listeners. But children want to listen and they want to do well. They aren't ignoring us, they just haven't learned how to listen effectively. So how can we help children listen for understanding and action, instead of just listening until their parents or teachers are done talking?
1. One way to help is give them a signal that it is time to listen. Some children need a gentle hand on their shoulder to know that it is time to listen.
2. Allow them plenty of time to talk to you. Many children (and adults!) are only listening in order to wait their turn to talk. Let them say everything they need to say, and ask them to tell you when they are done, because you have some important things to tell them.
3. Ask them, before they respond to you, to take a deep breath, and repeat what you have said. Maybe it was the directions you gave. Maybe it was an event coming up. Children will want to listen better if they know you care about whether or not they listened.
The following article has some great ideas about getting your kids to listen, both at home and at school!
Erin Rae is the Curriculum Coordinator at Lockport 91.