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CHECKLIST for School and Home Necessities:
Teach Your Kids Listening Skills (the REAL ABCs)
by Jodie Lynn

Ask any teacher what their number one complaint is and I?m pretty sure it will be the lack of listening skills. It isn?t anything new; however, it seems to be getting worse. The lack of listening skills is a major challenge in the classroom as well as in the home. It is the cornerstone for developing interpersonal relationships and yet it is one of the most neglected language skills in teaching environments; it is the other half of good verbal skills and completes the cycle of communication and can be taught quite easily especially by a work at home parent.

Your three, four and five-year-old may be starting some type of school for the very first time or returning to school as a semipro. Either way, practice a few things to do in class now that will help them get off on the right track. More importantly, teach your child when to be quiet and when listen to someone else and watch them gain confidence in honing this new skill. Since you work from home, allow them to watch and listen to how you handle your business over the phone. It's OK if they are young, do it for just a few minutes and explain what took place and answer their questions in simple terms.

1. Teach them how to listen and demonstrate why it provides communication with others. Show them how and why it is important to do so.

2. Make a game out of it using a favorite doll or action figure. Story telling is one of the very best ways to practice what you preach.

3. Read to your child. This interaction teaches how to listen and helps practice the process while ensuring the child has fun also.

4. Encourage good listening skills by doing some of the following:
  • establish a purpose for the communication
  • always have good eye contact by getting down on their level while talking
  • try to speak about an interesting or favorite topic
  • try not to stop what is being said for interruptions unless there is a question about it
  • offer nonverbal and verbal responses
  • divide listening and talking roles
  • pay close attention on what is being said and offer an opinion on it
  • ask the child to repeat what you have already talked about but do so without drilling
  • don't forget to stop, look and listen when they are talking as well
If your child is not entering school yet, begin teaching them listening skills anyway. It's a good idea to get started on this as soon as possible. If you do, interaction and communication in school, home and just around friends will be less stressful and more productive in the end and everyone, especially teachers, will love you for it.

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