Listening comprehension is the precursor to reading comprehension, so it’s an important skill to develop. Listening comprehension isn’t just hearing what is said—it is the ability to understand the words and relate to them in some way.
For example, when you hear a story read aloud, good listening comprehension skills enable you to understand the story, remember it, discuss it, and even retell it in your own words. You use these same comprehension skills when you read.
Listening comprehension begins at a young age as babies interact with people around them. It develops as they are read to and as they engage in conversation with their parents. Tone of voice, pauses between words, where the emphasis is placed in a sentence, and the rhythm and pattern of speech all have an impact on the meaning of the words being spoken and the message they are meant to convey.
In the All About Reading Pre-reading program, we foster listening comprehension by discussing stories and characters, expanding vocabulary, and exposing children to a wide variety of listening experiences. In addition, through the poetry in our books, The Zigzag Zebra and Lizard Lou, and through the read-alouds, children absorb language patterns that are not used as frequently in normal conversation, but that are commonly used in books.
In grade school, reading comprehension generally lags behind listening comprehension, so the best way for a child to develop higher levels of comprehension is through non-print sources (read-alouds, discussions, movies, and so on). Even after a child learns to read, listening comprehension continues to be important.
In the All About Reading program, we intentionally develop listening comprehension through story discussions, vocabulary development, and read-alouds. In this way, kids grow in their knowledge of the world, absorb language structure, and make connections between old and new information.
In addition to the activities built into All About Reading, you can help your child develop listening comprehension skills by engaging in the activities below on a regular basis.
Play listening skills games such as Mashed Potatoes. This silly game will provide your child with important listening practice and plenty of giggles, too! Hebanz is another great game that will help build listening skills in a way the whole family can enjoy.
If your child doesn’t understand what words mean, comprehension isn’t possible. The Conversational Method for Teaching Vocabulary is simply talking with your child and expanding upon vocabulary words that he has not yet learned.
Read lots of picture books aloud to your child. But don’t just read! You can help your child’s listening skills by turning reading into an interactive activity.
Here are a few ideas:
Listening to audio books is another great “read-aloud” activity that provides ample opportunities for building listening skills. As you listen to a story together, react to the story, laugh at the funny parts, and express surprise or fear at the appropriate moments.
Listening comprehension is one of the five critical skills for reading readiness that we call the Big Five Skills. The other four skills are:
If you’re ready to tackle the rest of the Big Five Skills, be sure to check out the All About Reading Pre-reading program. Your student will enjoy special games, crafts, and story time read-alouds, and you will love the way your student effortlessly learns essential pre-reading skills.
Do you have any questions about listening comprehension? Post in the comments below!