9 Ideas to Improve Your Child’s Listening Skills


It is of the utmost importance that your child has good listening comprehension skills, but do you know why?

By answering this question we’ll find understanding of the validity and importance of listening comprehension skills, as well as, what it actually is and what you can do to improve it.

What is Listening Comprehension?

Listening comprehension is more than just hearing what is said. It’s a child’s ability to understand the meaning of the words he hears and to relate to them in some way. When children hear a story, good listening comprehension enables them to understand it, remember it, discuss it and even retell it in their own words.

This is an important skill to develop even at an early age because good listeners grow up to become good communicators, according to All About Learning Press.

As a quick side note, WorksheetCloud has listening comprehension activities. So if your child is struggling with listening, then consider giving WorksheetCloud a try.

What are we actually doing when we listen?

We are drawing on three different processes:

  • Hearing – We need to remember that hearing doesn’t mean listening, it’s just a physical act of receiving sound stimulation and sending it to the brain for reception.
  • Listening – Is tuning into a sound, recognizing its importance and interpreting the information in the brain.
  • Attention – Children may be able to hear and listen to sounds and voices, but they also need to be able to do this for a sustained period of time.

The negative impact of poor listening and attention skills

  • Poor sound awareness – Children may find it difficult to discriminate between various sounds.
  • Difficulty with reading and phonological awareness.
  • A negative impact on a child’s play and socializing.
  • A delay in language and communication development.

Ways can we support listening comprehension skills

We, as parents, have realized there is so much going on in one simple sentence. It comes as no surprise that our children struggle to listen as we are asking them to take part in a complex process. A process which is often hampered by factors negatively affecting their stage of development – be it emotional, cognitive or social.

By understanding the three processes mentioned above and our child’s developmental stages, we will be able to help them better develop their skills.

Ideas to help nurture good listeners

  • Ask your child to repeat what you have said, for example, after giving an instruction.
  • Practice following instructions in the form of a game.
  • Read stories – let your child predict the ending, retell the best part (make the story interactive).
  • Audio stories – listen to the stories together with your child or as a family.
  • Add-on stories – this can be done in a group where each person adds onto the story every 4 or 5 sentences.
  • Identify sounds – play or make sounds while your child’s eyes are closed and they must try to identify them.
  • Play follow the leader – play games, for example, like Simon Says.
  • Copycat – play games like broken telephone, clapping a pattern or repeating silly made-up rhymes.
  • Subscribe to WorksheetCloud – let your child practice their listening skills with our audio worksheets.

What it means to be a good listener

  • Stop talking.
  • Prepare yourself for listening.
  • Focus on what is being said.
  • Listen to ideas not just words.
  • Wait and watch for non-verbal communication.
  • Maintain eye contact wherever possible.
  • Listen to the words and try to picture what the speaker is saying.

The importance of good listening comprehension skills

Children with listening comprehension difficulties face serious learning challenges and are much more likely to fall behind their peers as they progress through school (Field, 2001; Mendelsohn & Rubin, 1995; Schwarts, 1998). Sounds are all around us. The ability to detect sounds is hearing but the ability to attach meaning to them is listening. This is the foundation for development.

I’d like to conclude using the words of Eleanor Johnson, “Listening is a crucial skill for young children to acquire. Listening is one of the basic building blocks of language and communication and particularly in the early years of education, one of the main vehicles for a child’s learning.”

Remember, WorksheetCloud has some fantastic listening comprehension activities. Try it out if your child needs help.

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About the Author

Adele Keyser has 27 years experience in teaching pre-primary, foundation phase, intermediate-senior phase and adult education. That's 27 years experience in dealing with children (and parents!). Currently teaching in Cape Town, her major focus is building classroom environments that foster healthy self-esteem and help children realise what they're capable of.


  1. Lynn

    Being a Gr R teacher myself for the past 18 years, it is always wonderful to read articles such as this one. Thank you!

  2. technos-d


    thanks for sharing your ideas to improve your childs listening skills

  3. Lorren

    Good day Mrs. Keyser,
    This is such a wonderful article thank you. I am currently a teacher student busy in my 3rd year.
    I am a grade RR classroom assistant. I was hoping you could give me some creative advice on the following:
    I am experiencing a listening problem with the class. majority of the children do not do very well in listening. I am concerned about their listening skills.

    We are currently in the process of assessing them for the 3rd term report and I am looking for fun, new and creative ways to test their listening skills.

    Any suggestions would be so welcome.

    Thanks in advance.

    Kind regards.

    • Ross Frank

      Hi Lorren! Thanks for your comment! We will be sure to pass on your comment to Adele and let her know what you think of her blog post. Listening is a huge problem among children, this I can relate to. Fun ways to teach listening, could be 1. “Simon Says” the point of that game is to make sure they are listening for the words “Simon says” and if Simon did not say it they should not do it. 2. Broken telephone, children love talking, so maybe try broken telephone in groups of 5 or so until they get the hang of it. 3. You can give them 1 instruction in the morning, for example “Always put up your hand when you want to talk”, and then ask them what the instruction was during the day. A new day, A new instruction. I hope this helps. Please let us know if there are any other blog topics you would like for us to cover in the future or if you have any questions regarding our content.

      Ross 🙂


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