How to Foster Listening to Develop Reading and Writing Skills

“Listening is the first thing children learn but it is the last thing taught, if at all. We emphasize reading and speaking in our schools, but listening skills traditionally have not been taught at all. That is changing some what because people are beginning to realize the importance of good listening skills.”

What are good listening skills?

Good listening skills are important in effective communication, and understanding. A good listener doesn’t just hear words but actively engages with the speaker. They do not interrupt, which allows the speaker time to articulate thoughts and feelings. Good listeners aim to understand not only the words spoken but also the emotions underlying them.

Good listening skills include:

– Maintaining eye contact

– Giving full attention to the speaker

– Facing the speaker

– Waiting for their turn to speak

– Knowing not to interrupt

– Asking questions and seeking clarification (this encourages critical thinking and deeper understanding)

How does this aid reading and writing development?

When children actively listen to stories or instructions, they absorb vocabulary, sentence structures, and narrative patterns, which enriches their own writing. Children grasp the subtleties of language, such as tone, mood, and figurative language, which they can then incorporate into their own writing to make it more engaging and expressive. Additionally, by listening carefully to others’ perspectives and ideas, children gain a deeper understanding of various topics and viewpoints, which can inform their writing and help them craft more well-rounded arguments or narratives. Moreover, when children listen actively and ask questions for clarification, they strengthen their comprehension skills, which in turn enhances their ability to interpret and analyse texts when reading.

Overall, good listening skills provide a strong foundation for the development of proficient reading and writing skills by fostering language acquisition, comprehension, and critical thinking abilities.

How to foster good listeners?

– Lead by example

– Create opportunities for communication

– Set clear expectations of how to be a good listener

– Practice active listening

– Giving instructions at home

– Reflecting on emotions: discuss your child’s feelings if they are having a bad day or if something exciting has happened

– Ask questions to clarify what was said

– Engage in turn taking activities: such a Storytelling Hot Potato where people take turns to add a sentence to create a story based on what the last person has said

– Use visual cues if necessary: these include pictures, written instructions or gestures

– Provide feedback and praise

– Limit distractions in their environment

– Be patient and supportive

How to create engaged listeners in reading:

– Read aloud bedtime story or homework books with your child

– Read and discuss the characters and plot of the story, as well as asking your child what they “think” a story might be about before reading, or what might happen next

– Ask open ended questions and encourage your child to discuss more than simple answers

– Active listening games

Storytelling Hot Potato

Simon Says with reading instructions e.g.“find a red book” or “find a word that starts with /b/

– Make reading enjoyable

In order to be a proficient reader, a creative writer and a critical thinker, children need to engage in the world with good listening skills. This allows their brains to absorb information more than just existing in the world.

-Caitlin Sassen