In an earlier post we showed some games that you can play to help your child cochlear implant recipient develop his or her listening skills. But is there anything else that you can do, beyond just playing games? Yes! Here are 10 other auditory techniques or strategies that you can use throughout your day to help your child develop his or her listening skills.
Emphasize a sound, word, or phrase to draw specific attention to it. If you’re working on learning the names of animals, for example, then grab a picture book that focuses on animals. Each time an animal is shown, point it out and audibly emphasize or look at your child when you say the animal’s name.
When presenting information to your child, the first step is to have them listen to your voice. If they don’t understand the first time, then use the “auditory sandwich technique”:
- Listening alone: let your child listen without any external influences so that they can hear whatever it is that you told them and think about what they’ve heard.
- Listen with support: if your child does not understand, then present the information again; but this time add some support such as pointing or gesturing, showing a picture, toy, or object, or signing.
- Listening alone: give your child another chance to listen on their own so that he or she can reinforce what they heard and what you said.
Check for Comprehension
Ask them specific questions about what he or she heard. Questions could be like “What color was the car?” and should be phrased so that you can determine your child’s understanding of what he or she heard.
Using Another Person as a Model
If your child shows difficulties responding to a question or other type of auditory input, have another person like a sibling or parent respond in the appropriate way. After they provide a model answer, then ask your child the question or give the input again so that he or she can respond independently.
For example if you ask your child “How old is John?” and your child shows difficulties responding, then ask the same question to a person like a sibling or other parent. As soon as this person gives the right answer, for example “John is 38 years old”, then ask your child the question again. This way the adult will act as a model so your child can see and hear the right way to respond.
Keep saying the same words or sentences over so that he or she has multiple chances to listen and understand the whole meaning.
Use different, or simpler, words to convey the meaning of what you are saying.
Pause and Wait
If your child shows difficulty responding, don’t immediately repeat your sentence or question. Instead, wait with anticipation for them to respond. This way you can encourage your child to listen and follow through with whatever was said or asked to do, rather than expecting you to repeat the direction or question.
“Pause and wait” is a bit different to the Repetition and Rephrase strategies used above, but it’s not necessarily contradictory when all are used appropriately.
Repeat what your child said to you, except expand what was said so that it is linguistically and grammatically more correct.
For example, if he or she says the grammatically incorrectly sentence “I like to eat grapes, they good,” you could expand this by saying “I like to eat grapes because they are good”.
Use an extended vocabulary to help your child develop his or hers. Bring in new words to the conversation. Respond to what your child said and also add a bit of new information that is related to what was said or asked, so that he or she can grow their vocabulary.
Teach your child to advocate for him or herself. Instead of letting them say “I didn’t hear you”, or “Please say it again”, get them to request specific information like “What color did you say the cat was?”. The goal here is to get them to request specific information, using whatever they did hear or understand, rather than asking a general question that would work in any situation.
Additional Skills and Exercises
While these are all techniques that you can use during daily life, there are many more tools that you can use to build your child’s listening skills. On our website we have a range of downloadable activities you can use with your child to develop his or her listening skills, and for older children you might want to try out our Continents and Oceans app for iOS or Android.
This post was written with help from MaryKay Therres, a certified speech-language pathologist and rehabilitation specialist.