Elementary school aged students enjoy learning when they feel part of the process. Listening is a skill that will help them to be successful, in elementary school and throughout life. There are several exercises that are fun and give the students the skills to realize the importance of listening, hearing and understanding what is being said.
The first exercise is based on the old “telephone” game also known as “Chinese Whispers” Begin the class with the students sitting in chairs placed in a circle. Give the first student a piece of paper with a saying on it and have him whisper it into the ear of the person next to him. That person whispers it into the ear of the next person and so on. By the time the last person in the circle repeats the sentence, it is much different from the original! Discuss with the class how one changed word can make a difference in the meaning. Discuss how gossip and rumors can start from listening to a story and coming to the wrong conclusion.
The second exercise emphasizes active listening. Keep the students in the circle and standing in the middle, tell the students that they will be asked to tell a pet story of a pet they have or know of. Ask one student to begin their story. When the student has completed the story, turn to another student and ask them to repeat the story. Most likely, they will not be able to repeat all the details, because each student will have been thinking of what pet story they will tell. Ask another student to tell their pet story and then call on another student to repeat. This time, more attention will have been paid to the person speaking. Remind students that it is important to actively listen, even if they are thinking of their own stories.
Depending upon the age of the students, further exploration into developing listening skills can be continued on a weekly basis. Five simple listening hints, include, eye contact, listening, asking questions, body language and paraphrasing. There are numerous sites on the internet to assist with these listening exercises.
Once students understand the importance of listening to their peers, their teachers and parents, they will find that it is much easier to learn and participate in life’s daily activities. Listening is a life skill that will give the students the ability to advance in school and be successful.