I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So, if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening. — Larry King
Listening is much more than hearing. Listening is one of the ways in which children learn. It is another of the lifetime skills I often write about in this column. A good listener is one who understands tasks and projects, builds strong relationships, solves problems, and resolves conflicts. A good listener is one who gains knowledge, understanding and success.
Listening is not something that just happens. It begins with concentration and the desire to learn. Encourage your children to watch the teacher or speaker to see how they stand, move, or gesture. Children can be taught to watch for signals given by the tone of the teacher’s voice to tell if she/he is joking or serious. Facial expressions such as a raised eyebrow, an emphatic wink, or a well-timed smile may help your children feel comfortable and gain confidence with what the teacher is trying to help them learn.
Listen for breaks in how the teacher is making a point or to check for students’ understanding. Teachers may be waiting to see if their ideas will make their students think and react with thoughts of their own. Picking up signals from their teacher and interpreting them takes practice. Children can also signal the teacher that they are interested in learning more by nodding, leaning forward and making eye contact. Embolden your children to ask questions when they do not understand even though they feel they are listening.
Everything in writing begins with language, Language begins with listening. — Jeanette Winterson
If your children are having trouble focusing or listening, have them take notes or even just doodle. In addition to using their eyes and ears, using their hands may help them listen. Your children must make the decision to listen as their first choice, rather than daydreaming or becoming distracted by what they are drawing. Their intention must be to listen, especially if their drawing helps them to better understand the point made by their teacher or to visualize what he/she wants them to know.
By offering your children even just one way to listen to their teacher as they leave for school each day, you help them grow the habit of listening. They will be surprised at how much more they can learn and how much better and easier their schoolwork becomes.
When you listen, it’s amazing what you can learn. When you act on what you’ve learned, it’s amazing what you can change. — Audrey McLaughlin
Children can be taught to listen to themselves also, to pay attention to their positive thoughts. Children can talk themselves out of being afraid or anxious. They can be taught “I can do this.” They must be careful how they talk to themselves because they are the only ones listening.
The word LISTEN contains the same letters as the word SILENT. — Alfred Brendel
Good advice: stop talking, be quiet and really listen.
Southern Arizona resident Bette Mroz is a former teacher, reading specialist and principal. As a mother and grandmother, she continues to help her family learn. She can be contacted at email@example.com