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Tips for teaching listening skills

little boy bumps presses forehead to his mother's

Key Points:

  1. As your preschooler’s vocabulary expands, their ability to understand more complex language and longer sentences increases.
  2. Getting your child’s attention is key to effective communication and listening skills.
  3. Speak in clear and simple sentences and make your expectations clear to your child.
  4. Practice listening skills through games and activities that require focused attention.

As your preschooler’s vocabulary expands, they’re able to understand more complicated language about different topics. Your little one is also able to grasp the meaning of longer and more complex sentences, like a set of instructions with three steps. Sometimes though, the difficult part is getting your toddler’s attention so that they actually listen to what you’re saying. Listening is an important skill that is completely interwoven with language development and, like any other skill, it needs to be practiced and perfected.

Here are a few things you can try at home that might help your child (and you!) out:

  1. Speak in clear and simple sentences. Even though, as we stated before, your preschooler can now understand more complex sentences, if you’re having trouble getting them to follow instructions, try making the instructions shorter, or have them do things in parts.
  2. Make eye-contact. When talking to them about something important or when giving them instructions, it’s a good idea to get down on their level and make eye-contact. This will help you make sure you’ve got their attention. Once you do, then proceed with your conversation.
  3. Make your expectations clear. Sometimes we feel that we’ve explained ourselves a thousand times to our kids, but we really haven’t, or maybe not in a way that they understood. Let your child know your plans ahead of time, make your expectations clear so that they know what’s coming and what they’re expected to do.
  4. Practice listening through games! Enhance your little one’s listening skills by making them notice a sound that’s far away. For example, ask them to listen to the garbage truck passing by. Can they hear it? Sit still and listen quietly yourself so that they can follow your example. Take turns pointing out different sounds you can make out.

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