Everyone (including myself) could use a little practice listening, paying attention, and following directions sometimes. Here are some fun and easy ways to practice and strengthen attention and listening skills:
When you are reading or telling a familiar story to your child, make a mistake, such as, “When Goldilocks arrived at The Three Frogs’ house, she went inside without knocking.” See if your child catches your mistake! My girls love this so much that we sometimes have to read whole stories this way! Start with very obvious errors, then gradually work toward more subtle changes. Great listening skill-builder, plus works on that reading comprehension stuff too!
Play some classic childhood games like Red Light, Green Light, Follow the Leader, or Simon Says (I prefer Mommy Says). Make up your own rules for added variety and challenge: Red light means sit down, green light means walk backward, yellow light means hop in place. My girls love their chance to lead these type of games too – it’s fun to watch Mommy do all kinds of crazy moves! :)
Help your child learn to follow two- and three-step directions by hiding an object in the room, then giving directions to find it. For example, “Find your tiger. Go to your bedroom, open your closet, and look in your black shoe.” This activity is great practice, of course, for those mornings when you do need them to go to their rooms, open their closets, and find their shoes!
I love using musical instruments to practice listening skills, too. Kids are naturally drawn to rhythms, plus playing with instruments is fun, so this hardly seems like work of any kind. Try tapping or playing a rhythm and then have your child repeat it. Any instruments work for this – drums, rhythm sticks, tambourines, etc. – or just clap, pat your knees, or click your tongue. Start with simple rhythms, where all your child has to do is count the number of beats. Move into more sophisticated patterns that vary in speed (quick-quick-quick-slow-slow) or volume (loud-soft-soft-loud). Another variation is to play a simple and familiar tune, such as Jingle Bells or Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and see if your child can guess the song.
If you have some fun ways to build listening skills, please share! Happy Playing!