Games to develop listening and communication skills
Children reach milestones at different times. There’s no right or wrong time with some developing faster than others, though communication and listening skills can be spurred on by playing games with your child.
In a dangerous situation, or as your little one disappears over the horizon in the park, they need to respond automatically when you shout stop. This simple game is a fun away to practice so that they react without thinking when it counts.
You need a nice big space for this so the garden is ideal. Encourage your little one to run around then shout “stop!” and have everyone freeze, on “go!” you can run again. Stopping in mid stride and holding a silly pose is always fun and really gets the message across. You can develop the game by including other actions such as clap or jump. Just be sure to include lots of practice at stopping.
It can be difficult to encourage children to look people in the eye, particularly when you are out and about, yet it is important that they learn to show this sort of respect for everyone. When you are in a restaurant tell an older child that you will ask them the colour of the waiter’s eyes. Encourage them to place an order, even if only for a drink and after the
waiter has left ask for the colour. You can do this in shops and other similar circumstances to really get children used to looking at people when they are talking to them.
A large amount of communication is non-verbal so being able to read body language and tone are important skills. This is a great game to play at the dinner table or when you are stuck in a waiting room.
Sit opposite your child and take turns to pull a face to show an emotion, encouraging them to guess which one. To begin with you might need to use exaggerated expressions and simple emotions such as sad and happy but try to be more subtle as your little one gets used to playing. You can also look at expressions in photographs or books and make suggestions about what to do next, for example giving a hug to someone who is upset or congratulating someone who feels proud.
The games we have looked at so far encourage some of the individual skills that are involved in communication, this one is a great opportunity to practice putting them all together, although it does need some preparation.
Cut some paper into strips and write a question on each one. For a very young child keep the questions simple and model good answers in full sentences, things like “Did you go to nursery this morning or did you stay at home today?” As the child’s skills develop you can make use of more general questions such as “how would you make a cheese sandwich?”
When you are sitting at the dinner table take it in turns to pull out a strip and answer the question. There is no need to correct your child but do make sure you demonstrate the sort of language you want them to learn.
Photography: Bridget Coila @Flickr