The Block Island Times

Helping children learn to listen well

By Sheridan Fisher Carley | Mar 14, 2013

Are you a good communicator? Let’s find out. The English writer and cleric Charles Colton once wrote, “Were we so eloquent as angels, yet should we please some men and women much more by listening than by talking.”

Listening is an important skill that all teachers should try to help children master. The child, through learning and listening skills, will learn not to interrupt. They will be able to engage in a conversation. They will increase their vocabulary along with understanding what is being said. And they will more likely be able to respond to the information they are listening to.

An article I read years ago that was titled “Mother Goose is a lame duck,” said that nursery rhymes were not being used enough in the education of children. Nursery rhymes are important because silly, rhyming words develop language and give children an opportunity to learn new words and sounds. They help learning skills.

Many nursery rhymes teach life lessons. Older generations used them often to explain different life tragedies, hardships and awareness of the life around us. How many of you know the nursery rhyme “Ring around the Rosie?” Some have argued that the rhyme tells the story of the Great Plague of London and Europe in the 14th century. A late interpretation of the poem put forth the idea that children seeing the effects of the plague had to be helped to understand what was happening and to also lighten their hearts.

Good communication skills — as even the writers of nursery rhymes knew — are important in order for children to have success in school and in their lives. For preschoolers, the development of conversation, listening skills, silly songs and rhyming words in pairs helps in their language development. Little children learn at a naturally rapid rate and must be challenged and fostered early.

This article is for all ages. Many of us do not listen well. Some people talk over people, some people will ask questions but do not listen to the answers. When you are with someone remember to listen, try to empathize and focus on the person. Relate to the subject they are talking about so if necessary, you can relate the subject back to them.

What kind of communicator are you? Do you listen well? I think most people have to work on their listening skills and we should re-evaluate them often.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all. Be a good listener!

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