Developing listening skills

by Jacqueline Harding. Young children love telling us about everything and anything - but they also need to practise their listening skills.

Girl turning with mouth open


Young children love to ask questions - and they will ask about everything and anything!

They are driven with huge excitement to find out more about the world. They will ask ‘when’, ‘why’, ‘where’, ‘what’ and ‘how’ at every opportunity. It can be exhausting trying to keep up with their continual thirst for answers!

Then, of course, young children want to tell you all about their lives - what they are doing, how clever they are, and what they’ve just discovered.

But at the same time, young children need to learn to listen. Thankfully, there are some quick and fun ways to help build those listening skills.

How CBeebies can help

Kerwhizz has some great fun listening games to help children notice the difference between sounds.

Music is a brilliant way to communicate with children and build on their listening skills. Why not try a clapping game where your child copies a simple clapping pattern? You could clap along to one of your child’s favourite theme tunes.

Or, you could ask your child to close their eyes whilst their favourite CBeebies show is on and ask them which character in the show is talking. Can they recognise the voice?

How to make a magic moment

You could try playing music with children and building up a conversation. You could even set up a question and answer game through drumming. For example, the child ‘tap taps’, then the grown-up ‘tap taps’, and so on - with different patterns of tapping to be copied and answered. Quickly, children learn that they can take part in conversation this way.

A magic moment (relating to your child developing their listening skills) could come at an unexpected time. It might be when you are asking your child to sing a low or high note (copying you). Or, it might come when you are hiding a toy behind a cloth (choose several toys which makes sounds) and ask them to name the toys. The delight on their face will speak volumes!

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Top tips

  • Set aside a special time to listen to your child - perhaps at bath-time.Give your child time to answer if they are struggling to get their words out.Try to show that you are listening to your child by getting down to their height.Play listening games when waiting in queues. It helps pass the time too!

Expert opinion

There’s no doubt that children who feel that they are listened to by adults tend to listen to others better.

Jacqueline Harding, Child development expert

Parent's tale

My daughter Lily is two and a half now and is a little chatterbox! She began talking early. I love chatting with her and listening to her little stories. She likes to role play too. She likes to be a beetle or a character (Kwaazi from Octonauts being her current favourite).

When Lily doesn't want to eat her cereal or brush her teeth, I find getting her into 'character' often solves the problem, although it takes time and effort.

Rachel, From Reading

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