Speaking and listening are essential parts of communication and are two major parts of your child’s speech and language therapy plan. Find out how you can encourage your child with our top 5 speaking and listening activities.
How can you teach listening and speaking?
Let’s start with listening. Some children innately listen to others while others have trouble with listening skills. In order for a child to actively listen, they need to know how to do so. This requires modelling of body language - making sure the child knows when they should face the speaker and use eye contact. While showing the person that they’re listening through intermittently nodding while the person is speaking. It is also important that the child understands the listening process in conversation. It requires one to monitor interruptions and wait to say what they have to say when the speaker has finished speaking.
How can listening skills help your child?
If a child learns to master their listening skills, it can help them ask for help when unsure of what was said by a parent or teacher, help them advocate when given directives that aren’t clear to them, and ultimately allow them to be better communication partners.
Moving into Speaking. Teaching a child speaking skills is dependent on where in the process or phase of speaking the child is in. Some children are having trouble accessing words, while others speak inconsistently in conversation. In order to get a child to speak more, it is important for them to see you speaking in conversation. This means that you need to model talking and listening in conversation. Modelling and explicitly explaining to the child what a speaker does when they finish their ideas. It’s signalled by a pause or words that indicate they have finished. It’s helpful for children to know that switching between listening and speaking are important.
How can speaking skills help your child?
When it comes to thinking about what they read or watched, encourage your child to describe what they have seen or read/add on or elaborate on information that was presented. If a child is non-verbal, encourage them to communicate with words and gestures. If they are using an AAC device, work collaboratively to plug in core words and pictures to help them speak through the device. If a child is having trouble communicating their wants and needs but has access to words, start them off with models of sentence starters while withholding what they may want. For example, if they are jumping and pointing to the cookie jar, say “I want…” and let them finish the sentence and then say “I want cookie jar.” After that, allow them to have what they requested.
Let’s dive into what are the activities for listening. These talking and listening games are on the recommendation of our qualified Speech and Language Therapists.
What are the 5 activities involved in listening?
Use visuals that represent the body and brain needs to be required for listening, also known as “ whole body listening,” including eye contact “keeping the brain in the conversation,” and keeping calm hands and quiet feet. These visuals representing the brain and parts of the body needed to monitor for active listening can be placed on an active listening chart that can be portable from the child’s home to other settings.
Simon Says is a classic game where children are forced to listen to what Simon directs them to do. Through actively listening to “Simon Says,” directives, children practice their active listening required for following directions to take actions, such as “Simon says touch your nose.”
If in a group, children can practice listening by adding to a story. For example, you can start with a fairytale story, “Once upon a time there was a princess.” Each person needs to restate what was previously said and add to the story.
Use videos! Video clips from your child’s favorite show or youtube channel can force them to watch, listen, and recall. You can use video modeling strategies, and stop and start the video to ask them to recall what they just saw. Keep it specific with wh- questions about the characters and their actions. If they seem to be looking off, remind them that they will need their whole body listening to understand the video.
Play a word game such as “name something in this category that starts with an s.” Let the child and their group and/or you recall all of the words shared in the group and add to the list.
Speaking and listening are skills required for children to develop as their communication skills evolve. As they work on these skills, they can demonstrate adequate reading and writing skills. It is never too early to help your child speak and listen. Any interactive talking and listening activities that you will do will require your child to speak AND listen.