Tips for Helping Kids Listen

The classroom can be rather conducive to sleep or distraction unless the teacher understands how to engage all ears. Once a student tunes out, the teacher begins to lose control of the classroom, which lends itself to a poor learning environment. Engaging poor listeners can be done effectively by a teacher by utilizing a few simple strategies and techniques.

Teachers need to ensure that they are delivering curriculum to each and every student in their charge. The moment a student stops listening, the teacher is no longer assisting the student in their academic journey. Teachers must have an attentive audience at all times in order for student success.

The best methods of engaging poor listeners is to minimize distractions, pace the room, command attention through voice, address students by name, maintain eye contact, provide subtle breaks, and vary teaching styles.

Minimize Distractions

This may be difficult to do with poor listeners, especially those that have been diagnosed with ADHD or some other form of learning disability. Distractions come from far too many areas to effectively control, but an effective teacher should have the attention of the entire audience. The sounds of raindrops outside or a lawnmower are things that cannot be controlled, so the teacher should focus on what can be controlled (tennis balls on chair legs to avoid unnecessary noise).

Pace the Room

A good teacher tip for engaging poor listeners is to continually pace the room. As the teacher moves around, eyes tend to follow the movement. Once the eyes are following the teacher, the ears often follow as well. As the teacher paces, they can actively address poor listeners with a heightened level of success. A student cannot easily hide from view when the teacher is constantly in transit.


A teacher’s voice is their most effective tool in engaging poor listeners. The voice should always be changing, with fluctuations in loudness, cadence, and emphasis. A monotonous voice is easily tuned out, but a voice that is excited and changing can sustain a listener for a larger amount of time. With an enthusiastic voice, students may also be slightly more apt to buy into what the teacher is trying to sell them from an academic standpoint.

Calling by Name

Another tip for a teacher trying to engage poor listeners is to hold them accountable by using their name often while speaking. The teacher can simply say something like “Hey, Calvin, did you know that there are many uses of fractions in everyday life?” This tiny gesture also helps the student to feel included and respected, which may help them to remain focused and attentive.

Maintain Eye Contact

Poor listeners often tune out the teacher and focus on other distractions in the surrounding environment. Similar to calling students by name, teachers should maintain eye contact with poor listeners. Once it seems as though the student is losing interest, the teacher should make certain to engage eye contact and speak directly to the student for a moment. Asking questions of a student keeps their attention.

Provide Breaks

When lecturing for a long period, it is almost impossible to engage poor listeners or any listeners for that matter. Quick little breaks can be utilized in order to give students a chance to lose their focus in a controlled atmosphere. A quick chance to get up and stretch out the legs or to get a drink of water can help to maintain the audience’s attention.

Vary Teaching Style

Some students learn best through auditory lessons, while others rely on visual or kinesthetic lessons in order to achieve success. Some students thrive on a combination of the different learning styles, so the teacher should ensure that each period involves a little bit of each type of learning. Many students need to be hands-on as opposed to listening and trying to learn. The mind of each child is different, and needs to be taught accordingly.

As a teacher continuously hones their craft, they should always be trying to make certain that all ears are attentive while they are delivering academic material. Using some of these techniques can help to keep poor listeners actively engaged, which is beneficial to their success.