Being a good listener is something that requires practice. Unlike hearing which is about the sounds that you hear, listening is different because it requires your child to pay full attention and understand what someone is saying. This is a good skill to train because it can help them to enrich their understanding of the world and other people through their experiences.
For young children, training listening skills can be achieved through games that encourage attentive listening. Here are 7 games we recommend to start developing a habit of listening in your child!
Marco? Polo! If you’ve not played Marco Polo before, it’s like blindfold catching in a room except whenever the catcher shouts out “Marco”, the other players have to respond back with “Polo”! This allows the catcher to listen out to where the players might be and move towards that direction. When your child is the catcher, he or she will learn to discern where sounds are coming from and it trains them to be attentive in listening!
Play songs that give off different feelings and mood, such as a happy song, a sad song, a majestic song, and etc. Then, have your child move along to the music accordingly to what they feel the song is trying to express. They can bounce and jump when it’s a bubbly song, while walk with big strides and head held high when the song sounds very majestic or heroic! When they’ve moved about a fair bit, pause the song and that’s when your child should freeze and not move at all! Play and pause, play and pause, keep repeating for your young one to get used to listening out for the emotions of the song, as well as knowing when it is time to stop moving.
Treasure Hunt (with and without blindfold)
Set up a treasure hunt game with your child! There are two variations to this game. The first is whereby your child does not have on any blindfold. Prepare certain small objects (treasures) to be hidden all around the house and then verbally describe to your child what treasure you want them to hunt for and where can they be found! Your child will have to listen carefully to the instructions and go searching for the correct items.
The other variation of the game is to blindfold your child. This time, place the objects around in a room or area that does not have many obstacles. What you’ll have to do is to guide your little one to the treasures through verbal instructions. Say things that are specific like “walk straight for three small steps and pick up the ball from the floor”. Do ensure that your child does not walk or bump into anything. This also trains them to pay attention to your instructions and at the same time, build up trust in you as it’s not easy to move around with a blindfold!
To play this game, you need to choose someone to be ‘Simon’ and that person will give instructions such as “Simon says…scratch your nose!” The players then have to listen out for the instructions and follow them. But the catch here is that if the instructions are said without the phrase “Simon says” preceding it, then the players are not supposed to follow them. Anyone who does the actions will be eliminated from that round of game and the last person in the game is the winner! If the final two players both made a wrong move at the same time, they’ll both be eliminated and ‘Simon’ wins the game. This trains your child to listen out for a specific phrase as well as comprehending the instructions in order to follow them correctly. Increase the speed of the instructions to make it more exciting and fun!
Follow the Leader
This game is all about copying what the leader does! Normally this game is played using various actions. However, a variation of the game is to use sounds. What the leader has to do is play out different rhythm patterns with different sounds and the other players have to mimic and play out the exact same rhythm sequence! The sounds don’t have to be the usual clapping, but they can be made from many other things such as tapping on the floor or door, the clicking of a pen, or even the sound of scratching on wooden tables. To make the game tougher, you can vary the speed of your rhythm patterns and let your child know they have to follow the speed as well! This will help to train their listening skills. Don’t forget to switch roles so that your child gets a chance to be the leader too.
Being a detective is fun for most children and this is a great game to hone listening skills! Have your child close his/her eyes. Then, make different sound effects using things you have gathered from around your home! Your child will have to guess what is making the sound or how is it made. You can use items in the same group - different packaging (candy wrappers / paper / plastic bags etc) or kitchen utensils made from different materials (metal / wood / plastic etc) and even your child's toys! Manipulate each group of items so that sound is produced and have your child guess which item it was! Remember to only use one group of items at a time! Each group should have three to four different items. Switch roles and let your child have the chance to also make their own sound effects and it’s your turn to try and guess what it is.
Here’s how you play the Story Game with your child. First, you come up with a sentence or part of a sentence such as “There was once a little girl who…” and your child has to continue the sentence, or come up with a new one. Slowly, a story will be created when you take turns to add sentences! One additional part to the game is that both you and your child have to repeat the previous sentences that have been said before adding on your new one. This makes the game tougher but it is an excellent exercise to bring your child's imagination to life, train memorisation skills as well as listening skills!
We hope you have fun with these 7 games which can be played outdoors or even during rainy days when you are cooped up at home and have restless children to entertain!
Practice can be a trill!
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