You talk to your preschooler all day long. But do you ever get the feeling they aren’t properly listening to you?
Even toddlers who look like they’re paying attention may not always be fully taking in what you’re saying. After all, young kids love to daydream!
If you want to help your kid become a better listener but you’re not sure where to start, look no further. These fun, simple, and down-right effective exercises make listening skills development a breeze — for you and them.
Let’s dive in…
Why is it important for kids to learn listening skills?
Developing good listening skills is crucial for your little one’s core development — and it’s not just about stopping them from touching the hot stove! Being an active listener will also help your child in lots of other surprising ways.
For one, good listening is essential for achievement at school. After all, listening helps kids to build their understanding of language — and language is the main way of sharing knowledge. Because of this, kids who are good listeners are also more likely to be confident speakers, behave well at home, and form closer relationships as they grow up.
6 fun activities and games to develop listening skills in preschoolers
These activities for listening skills are perfect for young kids. They’re simple, fun, and engaging — just what preschoolers are after!
1. Go for a listening walk
Family walks are great for emotional wellbeing, physical and mental development, and they can be fantastic opportunities to practice listening skills, too.
Better still, this exercise is as easy as they come: just get outside and go for a stroll! You can set out for a walk anywhere really: your local neighborhood, park, or (if you can travel) a beach or forest.
While walking together, ask your child to listen out for any sounds they might hear — a bird, a dog barking, or a car horn. Each time you hear something, say what made the sound aloud and get your child to do the same.
This activity will help your child to be more mindful and aware of the sounds around them, as well as helping them to develop their language skills.
All of this will help your child become a great listener — not just on your walks together, but at home and school as well.
2. Simon Says
This fun listening skills game has always been popular with young kids. If you can’t quite remember the rules, they’re super quick to pick up!
Give your child directions like “Simon says, put your hands on your head” or “Simon says, do three jumping jacks”.
Explain to your child that as long as the command begins with “Simon says”, they must follow the instruction. If you don’t begin with “Simon says” they need to ignore your request (for once!) and stand completely still instead.
This game encourages your child to listen out for two things: what the command is asking them to do and whether they should follow it or not.
It can also be a great way to fit a little bit of exercise — and lots of laughter — into your kid’s day!
3. Listen to stories together
Audio-books are a wonderful way to develop your kid’s listening skills. They’re also perfect for relaxing before bedtime.
Not sure where to look for audio-books? There are hundreds of stories for children available on YouTube — but make sure your child is listening to the story rather than looking at the screen!
You could even read a book aloud to your child yourself. Whichever you choose, the most important part of this activity is that your child is listening to a story, rather than seeing it on a page or a screen.
This will help them to concentrate on the words being said and to form their own images in their mind. Ask them to respond to what they’re hearing — how would they feel if they were the character? What do they think might happen next? This gently tests their listening skills, while helping increase their empathy.
4. Listen and draw
For this listening skills activity, all you need is some paper and a pack of coloring pencils.
The aim is to describe an object, place, or scene for your child to draw. Use descriptive language like “a small black cat” with “pointy ears” and “green eyes”.
Creative children will particularly enjoy this activity — they’ll get to create their own artistic masterpiece, while also developing crucial listening skills. For bonus fun: blindfold them and see what they get down onto paper!
5. Broken telephone
This listening activity encourages your child to really pay attention to the words they’re hearing.
But you’ll need a few more people to get involved in this one. If you have older kids, they’ll love it too! Or you can save it for a birthday party or play-date.
Sit in a circle and start by thinking of a phrase or a few words. Then whisper the phrase to the person to your right. The aim of the game is to pass the phrase around the circle through whispers.
By the time the phrase gets to the last person, it will probably have changed into complete nonsense! This is because it’s difficult to hear words clearly through whispers. The game, therefore, encourages your child to concentrate on what’s being said to them.
6. Doll play
Lots of kids love to play with dolls and figurines, but did you know that this can also be a really good way to develop listening skills?
Sit down next to your preschooler, take a toy for yourself, and give the toy a voice. Ask a question to your kid’s toy, and wait for the response. When your child is speaking, make sure you pay attention to what their doll is saying, and encourage them to do the same when you are speaking.
It’s easier to engage kids with a game than it is in a real-life situation. If you’re struggling with a certain situation at home, try acting it out with the dolls instead — your child is much more likely to pay attention.
Play these games and activities with your kid as much as you can, whether at home or when you’re out and about. You’ll see their listening skills improve in no time!