By Vega Schools’

I have been a professional in the field of English language teaching, assessments and development for almost two decades now and that is how I know about language and skills development in children. But my professional qualifications aside, real learning experience comes when rearing my own children, one aged 14 and the other 4. And I am sure that most parents will empathise with me when I say, “My kids just don’t listen!”

Best schools in Gurgaon believe in teaching essential life skills in addition to academics, and listening skills are an important 21st century skill. Better listening yields better understanding, better collaboration, better awareness, empathy, and so better scholastic and co-scholastic performance. Academically, listening is interdependent on speaking; better listening leads to better speaking skills and vice versa.

Here are a few ideas to help train children for better listening.

1. Let’s start with basic listening skills for children in early years. Read aloud books with young children and ask for their feelings or opinions regarding the characters and events in the story. My 4 year old loves reading at bedtime as a routine and though he is not an independent reader, he can identify key words due to repetition. He also knows the emotions related to his favourite stories and can empathise with the characters. You can further help children develop expression by asking them to identify familiar places and objects from stories, repeat dialogues, or narrate a whole story in their own words or through drawings and gestures.

2. Hold discussions and conversations regarding family decisions, such as where to go for holidays, what to do on a special occasion, or what to buy when shopping. When children feel that their views are considered and valued, they in turn value others’ opinions too.

3. Listen and encourage children to express their views, feelings and opinions freely. This not only makes them feel safe and valued, but it also helps them become more confident people.

4. Model appropriate listening and speaking behaviour by using words and tone responsibly. Children imitate what they hear and see so when they see that they are being listened to, they in turn become better listeners within their own peer groups. Most children use inconsiderate tone and rude words without thinking because they may have heard others using the same for them.

5. Give multi-step directions to children, for example: collect your toys and keep them in the toy basket; or let’s finish revising Maths today and start Science tomorrow. Have children create to-do lists and tick off the tasks accomplished everyday. This will help them get better organised and teach the skills of note-taking and creating timelines and deadlines.

6. Play games, such as Simon Says, Chinese Whispers, Telephone, Pictionary and memory games. While travelling, it is fun to have young children memorise and repeat what they saw on the way. My 4 year old loves heavy vehicles and whenever we drive to another city, he likes to keep a tag of all the heavy vehicles he saw on the road. Children who love cars also like to talk about the different brands of cars they see on the road.

7. For young children, recall phonics whenever the opportunity presents- words on sign boards, in menus, in shops, on vehicles, etc.

8. Praise your child when they follow instructions, or are able to read and recall phonics correctly. Nothing like positive reinforcement!

9. Deepen family trust and intimacy. When children grow in an atmosphere of open communication in early years, they usually develop into more communicative teenagers. Have a set routine where all members of the family share about their day, for example a conversation starter at the dinner table. Listen and share without any judgements and avoid conflicts when eating.

10. Teenagers can often experience problems and so it is important to look for any signs of troubled behaviour in your teenager. If a child seems withdrawn or close to any communication, it may be a sign of stress, anxiety, or emotional upheavals. Ask probing questions and provide assurance especially during exams or before an important event or competition at school.

Schools in Gurgaon invest a lot in developing skills such as self-awareness, social awareness, management and decision-making skills. As parents, we can help our children hone these skills and create better relationships if we follow a simple routine of listening to each other at home.

As educators in a top school in Gurgaon, we are specifically trained to give enormous importance to listening and to other 21st century skills. As a top CBSE school in Gurgaon we are actively implementing the National Education Policy 2020 which has laid emphasis on development of real world skills.

Listening is perhaps the most underrated skill, yet among the most important. Some of the greatest people in the world have been amazing listeners.

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