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How to Teach Listening Skills

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What did you say? If you want to know how to teach listening skills to elementary students, pay attention to this!

What Are Listening Skills?

Listening goes beyond hearing. It involves receiving and interpreting what you hear. 

We listen for several reasons.  The first reason is enjoyment. Who doesn’t like to listen to their favorite song or a funny joke? 

Second, we listen to gather information (like fun facts). 

This leads to our third reason: we listen to understand and learn.  A student is motivated by all of these reasons for listening. 

Though the student is motivated to listen (at least some of the time, anyway!), he needs to learn the listening skills to do it well.  These skills include:

  • Paying attention
  • Showing that you are listening
  • Responding to what you hear
How to Teach Listening Skills

Why Is It Important to Teach Listening Skills in the Classroom?

Developing the listening skills of your students is vital for these reasons:

Comprehension

You can have a comprehensive lesson plan and a dynamic teaching style, but if the kids aren’t listening, learning is not happening. 

Listening involves more than hearing the words, it involves comprehending them. 

That is the only way to understanding.  When your students have the skills to listen well, they can actually learn.

Classroom Management

Nothing is more frustrating than trying to teach an unruly, distracted class.  When your students possess and use their listening skills, transitions are orderly, side chatter is eliminated, and the lessons can actually finish on time.

Safety

Listening skills help your students to respond quickly and appropriately in an emergency situation. 

If there is fire, a medical emergency, or a dangerous situation, your students need to listen to your instructions, understand, and respond appropriately.  Their safety is at stake.

How to Teach Listening Skills

Activities for Teaching Listening Skills

Here are some fun activities to train the listening skills of your students.

Call and Response

Call and response chants get your students’ attention and prime them for listening.  You call out a phrase, and the children have a set response that they call back.  For instance, you say, “1, 2, 3, eyes on me!” and the students respond, “1, 2, eyes on you!”  Here are some other call and response ideas:

  • Hocus pocus…Everybody focus!
  • Are you ready?…Ready to learn!
  • Mac and cheese…everybody freeze!
  • All right, stop!…Collaborate and listen!
  • To infinity…and beyond!
  • Hakuna…Matata
  • Freeze! Everybody clap your hands…(students respond with 7 claps)
  • L-I-S…T-E-N

We Got Rhythm

This is a variation of a call and response that uses rhythm.  This also works well as a brain break.  Clap, snap or make a “tss” sound with your mouth to various rhythms that the students must copy. 

Start with simple rhythms before you move to more complex ones.  

Simon Says

This classic game is a listening skills gold mine.  Model actions for the children to copy, but only if you say, “Simon Says.”

You can even use this game to direct your students to gather supplies for an activity or line up at the door.

How to Teach Listening Skills

Guess Who?

Who knew practicing listening skills could be so fun?  Games like Guess Who? teach kids to focus on the details they hear as well as the ones they see. 

Riddles

Riddles are a fun way to get your students to open their ears and pay attention to you.  This set of riddles focuses on auditory memory as well as listening skills.

Whole Body Listening

This widely-used concept trains a child to set the stage for listening by preparing her mind, body, and heart. Run through the checklist orally with your students.

  • Eyes on the speaker
  • Ears open
  • Mouth closed
  • Shoulders facing the speaker
  • Hands folded
  • Brain ready
  • Heart open and caring
How to Teach Listening Skills

How to Teach Listening Skills to Elementary Students

Children truly do want to listen and learn; they just need to develop the skills of listening.  Help them along in their journey by teaching listening skills to your students.

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