How Important Listening Skills Really Are For Academic Success

By Huntington Learning Center

How Important are Listening Skills for Academic Success?

Sometimes it feels like your child just isn't listening, doesn't it? Failure to complete tasks, inability to follow directions, and the sense that your child just isn't paying attention can be frustrating. Your child's attention may be affected by a variety of factors but failure to improve the ability to listen can have a significant impact on academic learning. Research suggests that children need adequate listening skills to develop vocabulary, oral language, and comprehension abilities. As a parent there are simple things you can do to boost your child's listening skills and have a positive impact on cognitive development as well.

We've compiled a list of our favorite ways to improve a child's listening skills:

  1. Practice following oral directions Depending on your child's age and listening ability, start with either one or two step directions. Instruct your child to "listen carefully" and then proceed with a simple set of directions such as, "Hop on your left foot" or "Walk up the stairs then pick up the basket at the top." As your child becomes more successful following oral directions increase the number of steps. Eventually you will be able to give complex multi-step directions such as, "Take three steps, turn around, and then clap your hands five times."
  2. Use familiar rhymes or stories Use your child's favorite rhymes and stories to boost the ability to listen. You can substitute an incorrect word and challenge your child to identify the mistake."Hickory dickory dock, the mouse ran up the sock." You can also pretend to forget a word as part of the rhyme or familiar story and your child will have to supply what's missing.
  3. Practice blending and segmenting Depending on your child's listening and literacy skills you can practice blending and segmenting words of various lengths. Begin by using a word with three sounds and build up to words with additional sounds. Have your child listen to the separate sounds, "C-A-P", then answer with the blended word, "CAP". Work up to more difficult words that involve complex sounds. You can reverse the directions by providing your child the word and then requesting the word be segmented into individual sounds.
  4. Turn homework into listening practice You can use your child's homework assignments as additional listening practice with a few simple modifications. Word problems on your child's math homework are an excellent opportunity for listening practice. Begin by reading the problem out loud to your child several times then presenting the challenge of trying to solve it without reading it. If your child needs the problem re-read, ask which specific information is necessary. This will require your child to carefully consider all components of the problem and serves as a definite listening challenge.

Our professional tutors are trained in improving a child's listening skills as part of our personalized tutoring programs. Regardless of your child's age, or the focus of the tutoring, your child will gain valuable skills that will improve the ability to listen effectively and follow directions. Much of the instruction provided in our tutoring sessions is delivered orally and your child must be able to interpret spoken directions to complete a task or provide an answer. If your child struggles with listening, the sessions will be an excellent opportunity to practice these skills. As listening improves the tasks or directions will become more challenging based on individual needs.

How are your child's listening skills? Which of the above activities do you think would have the most impact on your child's listening? Please click one of the buttons at the top of the page to share this information with other parents who may find it valuable and share your own experiences. 


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