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Encouraging Listening in the Kindergarten Classroom

little girl cupping her hand to her ear, listening

From the book Learning to Listen/Listening to Learn: Teaching Listening Skills to Students with Visual Impairments, edited by Lizbeth A. Barclay

By kindergarten, it is important that most of the basic auditory perception and discrimination skills be in place for children with visual impairments, as academics are beginning in earnest. Children must be able to maintain attention when in a one-on-one session with an adult, when working in a small group, or when receiving instruction with the entire class. We teach and expect children at this age to match sounds, follow one- and two-step directions, and recognize cause and effect with sound.

Here are some strategies and activities to facilitate children's ability to listen in the classroom.

  • Prepare the child for the different types of sounds he or she will hear at school. Tell the child what to expect and what to do, and address the student's curiosity about an action or event. Ask questions such as, "What do you do when you hear the school bell?" or tell the child, "Yes, that's the principal's voice giving daily announcements" and "Today everyone will learn about being safe and what to do when you hear the fire drill alarm. Let's practice what you will do later today."
  • Encourage the classroom teacher to make an audio recording of the circle time so the child with visual impairment can share it at home and practice the activities in a daily routine.
  • Teach the child to operate a digital player, touch screen tablet, or CD player. Listening to recorded stories at this age will introduce and prepare the child for more academic learning that will require the use of audio formats.
  • Encourage the child to join with other children in the listening center (a designated area in the classroom in which children can listen to recorded literature while they follow along with the book), and make sure the classroom has the books in an accessible format (braille or color large print).
  • Teach the child to respond to who, what, where, how, why, and when questions about his or her daily activities so that the child is ready for these types of comprehension questions in the language arts lessons.
  • Use technology. Many websites, interactive/audible books, and children's programs are available to provide listening enjoyment while enhancing early concept and literacy skill development through listening.

For more information about developing listening skills in students, read Learning to Listen/Listening to Learn: Teaching Listening Skills to Students with Visual Impairments available in the AFB store at www.afb.org/store.

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