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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!

listening comprehension pinterest graphic
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Serena

says:

I never thought about audio books.

Roxy

says:

We love audio books and read alouds. We visit the library often and read aloud during meals and snacks. My boys also listen to audio books during quiet time and before bed.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Your children are getting so much great listening comprehension opportunities, Roxy! 😊

Heather

says:

I am starting to have my children retell short passages that we read aloud as a way to build reading comprehension.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Heather,
Retelling is a great way to begin building comprehension! Take a look at our How to Teach Reading Comprehension blog post too, as it includes ideas on how to go beyond surface comprehension about what happened and get to deeper understanding as well.

Made

says:

Wow how interesting

Chelsi Conklin

says:

This looks wonderful!

angela peppers

says:

i am so excited to try some of these strategies i had not thought of before. thnk you for your awesome program

Timea

says:

thanks for the tips

Amy

says:

Good ideas!

Donald

says:

Always interesting and helpful.

Sherryll Co

says:

I would like to know if there are any grade 1 level audio books you can recommend.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Sherryll,
Great question. Most books, even children’s books, are being produced as audiobooks today. Start with the books, or the authors, your child enjoys when you read aloud. Does he still prefer picture books? We have tons of Great Picture Book Reviews here. Or, is your child ready to listen to some easier chapter books. We have a number of Great Chapter Book Reviews as well. Gooney Bird Greene would be a great one to begin with!

See what your local library has. Most libraries now subscribe to digital media options that allow you to download audiobooks using your library card. My library has all sorts of children’s audiobooks, including Dr. Seuss, Goodnight Moon, Make Way for Ducklings, and many more.

Amanda J. Farnsworth

says:

Cool tips.

Liz

says:

This is a great reminder how important read alouds are for all ages. If I start running out of time during the day that is usually the first thing I drop. Thank you for the reminder and ideas!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I understand, Liz. There is so much to cover in a day and sometimes something has to give. But listening to books of a wide range of genres and types is so important for comprehension development. If you can’t get to reading aloud every day it’s okay. Just aim to get to it more often than not.

Robin Holder

says:

This seems like an amazing program!! I have two grandchildren I will be homeschooling in the fall … it would be a God-send to be able to use this program!

Jessica

says:

Love this! Thanks for sharing

Erin H

says:

I can’t wait to try All About Reading with my daughter!

Erica

says:

Thanks for the great tips!

Caryn

says:

Wonderful article! It’s amazing how comprehension ability is linked to so many activities. Thanks for the reminder and info about “interactive read-aloud” time.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Caryn. I agree it is amazing how many things require good comprehension!

Annie Graham

says:

I’m going to try these with my six-year-old!

Jacquelyn

says:

Great tips, thank you!

Nancy B.

says:

Great tips!

Diann Ruesch

says:

Great ideas for building comprehension.

Ashleigh Fluharty

says:

This really helps me with our daughter who is now learning how to read. I really needed this.

Heather

says:

Thanks for the list. Great Article.

J. Segerson

says:

This reminds me that I need to get some new audio books for the car!

Nicole

says:

Great, I will be using these ideas!

Liz

says:

Great article! Thank you so much for sharing!

Rachel 'Slotterbeck' Swick

says:

Thank you for the great ideas! My kids are big fans of audio books especially in the car.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Rachel,
Yes! In our family, every car ride of an hour or longer demands a great audiobook.

Kristin

says:

Awesome! We love audio books!

Rebecca H

says:

I absolutely love your book lists!! My daughter is head-over-heels in love with AAR. We’re on level 3 and she has loved every single level. The quality of the lesson plans, engaging stories & simple activities makes AAR worth every cent!!!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Rebecca! I love that your daughter is loving All About Reading!

Carol

says:

Thank you for the info. I have learned so much from your articles. Thank you.

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