Sunday, February 10, 2008

Can you hear me?

From the time your child wakes up in the morning to the time she goes to bed at night, sounds surround her: music, children at play, traffic, birds, TV, ticking clocks, and more. The ability to focus on one sound and distringuish it from background noise is different then simply hearing--that's why listening is truly a learned skill. You can help your child develop the awareness needed for active listening when you stop and listen to the nuances of sound. Developing good listening skills is vital to helping your little one learn to follow directions, to read, even to play an instrument.

Your baby: Sit comfortably and hold your baby on your knees so that you're facing each other. Imitate her facial expressions and sounds. Allow long pauses, letting her notice that you're really listening.

Your toddler: When you hear an interesting, easily repeatable sound, such as a doorbell, a knock, or footsteps, ask your toddler, "What's that sound?". Imitate the sound yourself and then ask if she can make the sound, too.

Your preschooler: Play "I Hear,", the audio version of the well-loved children's game, "I Spy." Start by saying, "I hear with my little ear something in the kitchen." Your child then has to ask questions about the sound and try to identify it. Then switch roles. Or try playing the "If you can hear me" game. Say, "If you can hear me, hop on one foot." Let your voice get softer and softer, while the actions get sillier and sillier. The crazier the actions, the more fun the game will be for your preschooler.

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