Monday, October 11, 2010

Listening With a Purpose

Listening is the language ability that develops first and is used most often. True listening means not only hearing sounds in the environment, but also taking meaning from and responding to those sounds.  Listening is an essential part of the development of both written and oral language. We can best help children develop listening abilities by providing experiences that encourage careful listening. Many of these experiences take place in our classroom "Listening Center."  We change the materials at this center on a regular basis. So far at this center children have listened to CDs with lyrical music (Raffi), familiar circle time stories on CD, and presently Nursery Rhymes. 

We attempt to encourage children to visit the listening center by making it a comfortable, engaging area where they can independently use a CD player, headsets, and a variety of recorded materials. Through songs, poems and stories, children identify and differentiate between familiar or similar sounds, rhyming words, letter sounds, and speech patterns. They can also follow along to the oral story with a printed copy of the book.

Children's vocabulary, comprehension and critical thinking skills also get a boost from visiting this center. Listening experiences stimulate kids to express their own reactions in various ways, including verbal discussion, art, drama or stories of their own. Through these activities, children relate what they hear to their own experiences.

You can extend on this learning at home or during car trips. Try to encourage your child to identify particular sounds coming from the the outside world (e.g., traffic, animals, weather). Point out the differences in pieces of music. Play games with words by finding rhyming words or words that begin with the same sound. Visit the Amherstburg Library's books on CD and tape section and encourage your child to listen to stories on long car rides. 

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