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4 Great Ways to Build Listening Comprehension

What Is Listening Comprehension?

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.

How Listening Comprehension Develops

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.

Listening Comprehension Quick Guide Download

4 Fantastic Ways to Develop Listening Comprehension

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.

Mashed Potatoes -  a listening comprehension game

Play Fun Games

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.

The conversation method download

Talk to Your Child

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.

12 Reasons Why Teachers Love All About Reading and All About Spelling

Make Reading Aloud Interactive

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:

  • Briefly explain unfamiliar words and situations to help your child build comprehension.
  • Invite your child to make predictions. “What do you think will happen next?”
  • Encourage your child to retell the story (or an exciting part of the story) to family members. Meal times are often a good time for retelling stories.
  • Need book suggestions? Download our extensive list.

12 Reasons Why Teachers Love All About Reading and All About Spelling

Listen to Audio Books Together

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 Big Five Skills

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.

All About Reading Pre-reading

Do you have any questions about listening comprehension? Post in the comments below!

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Leave a Reply

Lyndsey Martinez

says:

This is very helpful!!!!!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Lyndsey! I’m glad this was so helpful for you.

Anna

says:

It is always a plus to gamify learning!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

We agree, Anna!

Trisha

says:

Interesting topic, thank you for sharing :)

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Trisha.

Stephanie Abney

says:

Thank you for this comprehensive and doable program. The emails and blog posts are very helpful. Cheers!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Stephanie. It’s great to hear that the emails and blog posts are helpful!

Tamara Lowrey

says:

Great suggestions. I’m going to try to make our read-alouds more interactive by asking my child to predict what happens next.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’d love to hear how it goes, Tamara!

Michelle

says:

Excellent article about listening comprehension.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Michelle.

Stephanie

says:

Great post!

Danielle McNish

says:

There is definitely an art and science to developing reading skills in children, but lots of options to do so.

Stephanie Karijanto

says:

Thank you for this! Good to know that I’m in the right path. I used to avoid audio books, now I will use it with my son.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m glad this was helpful for you, Stephanie! Audiobooks are a great option.

Stephanie

says:

Thanks for the suggestions! You always provide simple and practical ways to implement teaching new skills!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Stephanie!

Tara Brown

says:

I love that this post focuses on listening skills! I sometimes feel like these types of skills are thrown to the side, but like everything else, kids need to learn how to listen and practice often, so they improve over time. Thank you so much! Great post!! :-)

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Tara! Yes, listening skills are so important and too often overlooked.

Deena

says:

Thanks for the comprehension tips. I’m looking forward to using this curriculum this year!

Bryn Hottman

says:

I love the games from All About Reading. My kids’ reading really does improve after playing them a few times. Thanks for providing them for free!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You are so welcome, Bryn! Thank you for letting us know that games like these are helpful for your kids!

Shelby

says:

These are wonderful tips! My struggling reader has come leaps and bounds with this program!

Sally dunham

says:

This is a great idea, I think my grandchildren will learn a little easier and be able to comprehend. Thank you

Kori Villegas

says:

These are great ideas! My child is not a lover of reading and I’m hoping this program encourages her to read more.

Sara Miles

says:

Thank you so much! I use this program with my son and it is wonderful!

Violet Hershberger

says:

When a student really listens with their heart, it makes teaching way more effective!

Elizabeth

says:

I have been using Explode the Code for our Resource Level two interventions. All About Reading looks as though it would be a better fit. I am excited to study the program and begin a test group.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Sounds wonderful, Elizabeth! Let me know if you have questions or need more information. We’re happy to help! You may find our 12 Reasons Teachers Love All About Reading and All About Spelling informative. It includes downloadable assessment forms that can be very helpful.

Alicia

says:

Thank you so much for these tips! Will be using them with my littles.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Alicia! I hope you find them very helpful.

Marisol Perez

says:

Thanks for the tip! I was not aware of the importance of this in reading.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Marisol, and I’m glad this article helped you learn something new!

Jace

says:

Such great ideas! Can’t wait to try them.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Jace! I’d love to hear how things go after you try them out.

Jennifer VanHorn

says:

Activities look so fun!

Laura Jensen

says:

We have been listening to Harry Potter books this summer on audible and before we start reading we also have the print book and read and discuss the chapter titles and do some interactive reading. Anyone who has a thought or prediction for the story can pause the audio book and tell the family what they are thinking. It really has increased the love of reading for my son with dyslexia.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I love how you are making listening to audiobooks so interactive and social for your family, Laura! Thank you for sharing these great ideas!

Peta-Gaye

says:

I find the Conversational Method for Teaching Vocabulary very easy and effective to use with my son. Thank you for the information on this post, it’s a continual work in progress.

Rahel

says:

Thanks for this informative sum up! I am looking forward to trying mashed potatoes, that was new to me.

Jessica

says:

We definitely need to work on this more!

Rebecca Docimo

says:

Great tips as always, thanks! I love listening to audiobooks with my son at bedtime.

Elizabeth

says:

Thanks for your excellent guidance.
I haven’t read all the posts, so pardon me if this has already been addressed: I believe it is important to continue to read aloud to children long after they are able to read fluently.
I am finding it vital to continue to read aloud to my teenager, listen to him reading to his younger brother, listen to audiobooks together, & read the books he is reading silently so that we can discuss the book, & I can check the accuracy of his comprehension. My son has auditory processing & language disorders, but that has not prevented us from enjoying excellent literature together. It just takes longer we stop frequently to define words & discuss the text.
I will continue to do so even with my child whose listening comprehension is excellent, not only because the books become more complex as they get older, but because we have such fun with the shared experience.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

We completely agree, Elizabeth! I read aloud to my teenagers almost every school day, in addition to the reading they do themselves! Thank you for pointing this out.

Rachel Fuller

says:

I love these tips. With an extra busy 7 year old, it can be hard to sit and teach and actually have him listen and comprehend what I’m saying. Thank you!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Rachel,
You may find our blog post Reading Aloud to Kids Who Can’t Sit Still helpful. Some kids actually listen and comprehend better when they aren’t perfectly still. My own kids love to play with Lego, or draw, or even take a bike apart while they listen to me and they comprehend very well while doing all that stuff.

I hope this blog post gives you some ideas, but please let me know if you if have any questions.