It is important for children to develop good listening skills at a young age. In a counselling setting, good listening skills can be promoted to help a child learn to follow directions, communicate better with a parent and perform better in school. Teach children the habits of a good listener by modelling listening skills and playing fun games that require them to use good listening skills.
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Model Bad Listening Skills
Ask a child a random question such as "What's the weather like outside?" As the child answers, turn your head away, pick up a book and start reading, turn on a TV, take out a cell phone and start talking on it or interrupt the child while she is speaking. Explain to the child that you just modelled bad listening skills. Ask the child to explain how it felt to not be listened to. Then ask the child the same question and model good listening skills such as looking at the child, nodding your head in agreement and commenting appropriately.
What Did I Say?
Tell a child a simple story and ask him to recall various details from the story. For example, if you tell a child a story about going to the store and buying some groceries you can ask "Where did I go?" or "What did I buy at the store?" Use stories that involve characters' being happy, sad or angry and ask the child at the end of the story how the main character was feeling.
Practice listening skills by playing a simple game of Simon Says. This activity works best in a group counselling setting, but can also be played one on one. The person designated to be Simon gives the children instructions, preceding them with "Simon says." For example, "Simon says touch your toes." Occasionally that person should give instructions without saying "Simon says..." Children should only move when "Simon says" to do something. If not, they lose the game. This will teach children to listen carefully to instructions.
Have the child make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, giving the directions step by step. Use a plastic knife to spread the peanut butter and jelly for safety. After the child follows all of the directions, have a discussion with him about the process. Talk about what would happen if a step was left out or if the steps were completed in a different order, to reiterate the importance of listening to and following directions.
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