This skill of singling out a significant sound and being able to discriminate and attend to a widening range of auditory information is useful to develop clear articulation and phonological awareness. But listening is so much more than this, it is about opening our hearts and minds and really hearing and understanding others.
How can we support children to understand and develop this most difficult skill?
How many of us adults really listen with an open mind, a mind ready to accept another point of view or listen that we might change through the exchange?
When we listen to someone we are acknowledging them as an individual, they feel respected and we give them value.
Do we listen with anticipation, curiosity and reciprocity?
What do we mean by these words when applied to listening?
As I observed the children being willing participants in activities designed to develop listening skills I wondered what meaning the children gave to ‘listening’. By posing the question, “What are your ideas about listening?”, I was able to confirm the ways in which children have collective as well as idiosyncratic understandings about the concept of listening, some surprisingly profound:
“My mummy listens to me when’s not talking to my daddy. My mummy doesn’t listen to me when she’s already talking to daddy. She does always good things.”
“Listening is thinking. You need to be a bit loud. Everyone will be shutting their ears.”
“My mummy listens when I talk to her.”
“Mummy and daddy talks when we sleep. Listening is my daddy talking to my mum.”
“I listening my mummy. My mummy kiss me.”
“My mummy listens, I counting.”
“You have to listen when you go to Disney Land. I hear Ariel singing ‘Under the Sea’.
“My mummy makes me laugh. She tells me funny jokes and I listen.”
“I am listening to the talking sun… saying ‘I love you’.”
Listening is such an important part of being human. It is an attitude for life, helping us to search for meaning and holds humanity together.