8 Everyday Ways to Build Your Child’s Listening Skills

improve child listening skills

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Listening comprehension is more than simply hearing what is being said. It involves:

  • the ability to take in information
  • the ability to respond to instructions
  • the ability to share ideas, thoughts and opinions

Overall, listening comprehension is the ability to understand the meaning of words heard and to then be able to relate to them in some way. When your child hears a story, listening comprehension allows them to understand it, remember it, talk about it, and even retell it in their own  words.

Children who are good listeners often grow up to become good communicators. It’s an important skill to develop at an early age and, like a muscle, it needs regular exercise to grow stronger. Here are eight everyday ways you can help build your child’s listening comprehension skills at home:

1. Get their full attention. Encourage your child to look at you when they listen. Their full attention is important, and this gets them into the habit of giving their full attention to what’s being said.

2. Make reading an interactive activity. While reading aloud, stop before turning the page and ask, “What do you think will happen next?” Ask your child to explain their answer to see how well they’ve been listening. If they haven’t been listening, avoid criticising and instead, aim to get them into a fun habit of predicting what will happen next.

3. Play listening games. Games like Simon Says helps your child build listening comprehension skills in a fun and rewarding way. You can even make up your own listening games at home. For example, ask your child to find objects around the house by giving them two-part verbal instructions, then gradually progress to three-part, four-part, and so on.

4. Play “story chain”. This is a fun activity that the whole family can play together. Have one person start an original story by saying one line (e.g. “Once upon a time, there was a bear who lived in a cave”). Then go around in a circle so that each person contributes a sentence to the story.

5. Place an emphasis on common speech signals. Help your child listen out for important cues by placing an emphasis on common speech signals when you talk. These could include words like ‘now’, ‘next’ and ‘finally’.

6. Help your child to build their vocabulary. Children can get stuck on a word they don’t understand and end up missing the rest of what’s being said. Use books, games, flashcards, charts and online programs like Reading Eggs to build your child’s vocabulary, and don’t forget to read together regularly.

7. Be a good listener too. Avoid interrupting your child when they are talking, and show them that you’re listening to what they have to say. Give positive indicators like nodding, smiling, saying supporting words, and following up with questions or elaborating on what they have said to show interest.

8. Remember that most young children have short attention spans. Don’t expect your child to process information if it is lengthy, out of context, or not particularly interesting to them. Focus on building learning comprehension skills in a fun and supportive way, and remember to always be patient.

Start your free trial of Reading Eggs here. Reading Eggs is the fun and interactive reading program that teaches kids aged 3-13 vocabulary, comprehension, phonemic awareness and more. Children complete hundreds of listening games, activities and lessons designed to build essential early literacy skills in an entertaining and supportive way. 

10 Things Your Child Should Know Before Starting School

Get your child ready for kindergarten

It’s perfectly natural to feel anxious about sending your child off to big school; as a parent, you want to be absolutely certain that your little one is fully prepared to adapt to a classroom environment, make new friends, and be able to clearly communicate their needs to their teacher whenever they need help.

But when it comes to specific skills and knowledge, many parents are surprised by how much their child is expected to know before starting school. Research shows that children who are well-prepared for their first year of school have a much better chance of settling in and succeeding in school, giving them a significant head start for later years.

Your child’s school should be able to provide you with a list of things they will be expected to know before starting. Before you let go of that little hand and send your child off to big school, here are the ten most common things they should know to help them feel confident and ready for their biggest adventure yet.

1. Listen to and follow simple instructions

By the time they start school, most children should be able to listen to and follow two to three part instructions.

What you can do: Give your child daily tasks around the house, like putting away their toys or setting the table for breakfast in the morning. Use two-part instructions like, “Pick up your toys and put them in the box.” and three-part instructions like, “Put the spoons, cups and napkins onto the table.”

2. Communicate their needs

Children should be able to clearly communicate their needs, especially to their teacher.

What you can do: Encourage your child to speak in complete sentences of five to six words, such as “I would like some water, please.” or “I need help with this word.” Always encourage them to explain how they are feeling: “I am hungry.” “My leg hurts”. “I would like to play outside.”

3. Dress and feed themselves

Children should feel comfortable managing their own clothes (e.g. zippers and buttons). They should also know how to open a juice container and unwrap their own food. It’s also at this age that children learn how to tie their shoes, though some won’t get the hang of it until around age six.

what does my child need to know before kindergarten

What you can do: Help your child practise dressing themselves each morning until they can do it independently. This includes zipping pants, buttoning shirts, putting on socks and taking off gloves and jackets. Teach your child how to open food packaging and praise them for doing a “big boy” or “big girl” job.

4. Share toys with others and take turns

A big part of starting school is about getting along well with others, completing a task or project through teamwork, and treating others with respect.

What you can do: Play board games at home to help your child become familiar with taking turns. If you have more than one child, encourage them to work on projects and tasks together at home.

5. Understand and retell simple stories

In their first year of school, children should be able to listen to and understand five to ten minute stories. Most will be able to retell simple stories that they have heard, and some may even begin telling original stories.

What you can do: If you don’t have a regular reading routine at your house, it’s never too late to start. Numerous studies have found that children who are read to regularly at home will have a much better chance at succeeding in school overall. Encourage your child to retell stories you have read by drawing pictures, using puppets, and role-playing.

6. Match and sort objects

Children should be able to match and sort objects by simple attributes, such as shape, colour and function (e.g. food, clothes, things you can cook with).

fun maths games

What you can do: Use books, songs, and play guessing games that teach your child about opposites. This will help them understand that objects can be identified by their attributes. To help your child sort, you need at least two different types of objects. Start with fewer categories (sorting by two types) and gradually progress to three, four or more. Slowly demonstrate each sort before asking your child to have a go.

7. Identify basic patterns, shapes and colours

These foundational skills will help your child develop essential mathematical skills and knowledge.

What you can do: Help your child point out patterns when you’re out together (e.g. in clothing, along a footpath, in a picture) and turn it into a fun game. Hang up colour and shape charts at home and let your child experiment with watercolours, crayons, blocks and playdough or clay to get familiar with colours and shapes.

8. Identify some numbers and understand how numbers are used

By their first year of school, many children will know how to count to at least 30 and tell what number comes before or after a given number to 20.

What you can do: Help your child point out numbers on a regular basis, like on the television, in books, on a keypad or on a phone. There are also many children’s books and online games like Mathseeds that teach children to count. Show your child how numbers are used in everyday activities, like following a recipe, keeping score during a game, or counting, measuring and weighing objects.

9. Identify letters, and begin to understand that letters stand for the sounds heard in words

Most children who start school will know the letters in the alphabet, and begin to understand the correlation between sounds and letters. Some children will be able to spell and write the letters in their name. Children should be able to also identify words that rhyme, which is an indicator of phonemic awareness, one of the five key aspects of learning to read.

What you can do: Use alphabet charts that include uppercase and lowercase versions of each letter. Games like letter races, matching rhymes and phonics hop-scotch are all great ways to build your child’s understanding of the relationship between letters and their sounds.

10. Begin to identify some sight words

Learning to identify and read sight words is crucial for young children to become fluent readers. Most children will be able to master a few sight words at the age of four (e.g. is, it, my, me, no, see, and we) and around 20 sight words by the end of their first year of school.

What you can do: The first 100 high-frequency sight words make up more than fifty per cent of primary level reading texts, so the sooner your child masters sight words, the more confidence they will have, and the faster they will progress towards reading fluently. Read three fun activities to learn sight words. While learning a handful of sight words before school is highly beneficial for developing early reading skills, parents shouldn’t be too worried if their child doesn’t grasp this until later.

Special free trial offer: Start your free trial of Reading Eggs here and see how your child’s reading can improve in just weeks.

5 activities to support your child’s language development

Blog-Post_Role-Play

Parents play a significant role in encouraging their child’s language development. Most children learn basic listening, speaking, reading and writing skills from birth through to grade three.

Studies show that children who are read to and spoken with regularly during early childhood will have a wider vocabulary and stronger literacy skills overall than those who aren’t. Additionally, there are many fun and simple activities that parents can do with their child to develop and support essential speech and language skills.

1. Storytelling

Storytelling is a great family activity that encourages language development and introduces new vocabulary. Make up stories together with your child including characters, conflict and a happy ending. Sit down to look at family photographs, talking about who is in the photograph, what they were doing and where they were. Ask your child to retell stories and set aside time for regular reading. You can even narrate the day with your child as it unfolds, e.g. “Now we’re going outside to water the flowers. When we finish, we’ll prepare the table for lunch.”

2. Labelling game

Cut pieces of cardboard paper and write the words for common items found around the house. These can include things like furniture, bathroom items, articles of clothing and children’s toys. Read each word aloud and ask your child to place it on top of the correct item. Gradually you can begin writing words for adjectives to describe household items. Include new adjectives that your child may not know and help them find items that can be described using that word. Encourage them to say each word aloud and even think of some of their own adjectives.

3. Picture book spotters

Read picture books with your child and pause to look at and discuss the pictures. Repeat what you have read in the story by pointing out to what is happening in the pictures. Encourage your child to make comments by asking them what else they can spot, e.g. “Big Ted is wearing his red shirt! What else is he wearing on his feet?” “The princess is sitting in the garden. What else can we see in the garden?”

4. Word chain

Building on the words and language your child already uses is an easy way to strengthen their language skills. Cut pieces of cardboard paper and write the words for different nouns and verbs your child is familiar with. Then write the words for different adjectives and adverbs. Help your child to make a ‘word chain’ using one noun or verb and as many adjectives and adverbs as possible. For example, if the word is ‘car’, you may select words like ‘big’, ‘fast’, ‘red’, ‘shiny’ or ‘noisy’ to create a word chain. Building language can also be incorporated into everyday situations. For example, if your child says the word ‘cat’, you can say, ‘soft cat’ or ‘sleepy cat’.

5. Role-playing

Role-playing is a fun and powerful way to expand your child’s imagination and introduce related language and words. Using costumes and props (or imaginary ones!), you can role-play scenarios which involve different characters to introduce related words and stretch your child’s imaginative play skills. For example, if you pretend to be a teacher, include as many related words as possible, e.g. classroom, students, blackboard, desk, books, learning, reading etc.

Reading Eggs is the comprehensive online reading website that teaches children aged 3-13 essential early reading skills, including fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. Start your free two week trial today.

Gorgeous Printable Mother’s Day Coupons + Fun Activities and Ideas

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Mother’s Day is all about celebrating and expressing our gratitude for mothers, and the many things they do and sacrifice for us every single day.

RE1505051140-MothersDay_Coupons_650x433Most families agree that no Mother’s Day gift could be treasured more highly than meaningful, home-made keepsakes. In this post, we would like to help you celebrate Mother’s Day with our gorgeous printable Mother’s Day coupons plus some fun activities and ideas below to make your mother feel extra loved on her special day.

Rose and Stem Bookmark

Story time can create the most precious memories between mother and child. You can help your child create a rose and stem bookmark to mark those special moments with some pink scrapbook paper, glue, safety scissors, and green pipe cleaners.

With safety scissors, cut four hearts from your scrapbook paper. Turn one of the hearts upside down to resemble one of your center petals, and use glue to stick the top of your pipe cleaner stem in place. Place your second heart on top of the first and press down firmly while the glue is still wet.

Arrange the other two petals by folding them in half vertically, and use them to sandwich the sides of the center petals, using the glue to hold your rose together. Have your child write their Mother’s Day message on the petals. A great idea is to use the well-known writing prompt: ‘Roses are red, violets are blue…’

Recipe for the World’s Greatest Mother

Writing recipes are fun, and children love using their imagination for this exercise! Create a Mother’s Day card and write the words ‘Recipe for the World’s Greatest Mother’. Ask your child to draw or decorate the card with items you would find in the kitchen, such as a chef’s hat, a pot, utensils, and an apron.

Inside your card, help your child write a recipe for what they think makes their mother so special. Some ideas to get you started include, ‘one large cup of patience’, ‘a sprinkle of laughter’, or ‘one big serving of the warmest hugs’.

Mother’s Day Coupons

Treat your mother to something special every day. Mother’s Day coupons are so much fun to create and let your mother ‘cash in’ her coupons on whichever day she chooses!

Create a coupon book by stapling together the side of several long rectangular sheets of paper. Help your child decorate the cover of your coupon book with pencils, pens, scrapbook paper, and glue.

Ask your child to think of some nice things they would like to do for their mother, such as breakfast in bed, performing a concert, or reading a story. Create a coupon for each idea and encourage your child to write and decorate the pages in their own special way.  You can also download our free printable Mother’s Day coupons here where younger children can practice writing their name.

Love notes

What could make someone feel more special than constant surprise reminders throughout the day?

Cut out pieces of scrapbook paper and write special messages to your mother on each one. Invite your child to help you think of things to include, such as nice compliments, messages of gratitude, or a lovely quote from their best-loved books.

Encourage your child to write the messages on each piece, and leave them around the house for your mother to stumble upon throughout the day. Try leaving your love notes in place like the dashboard of her car, on the bathroom mirror, in the sock drawer, or inside the fridge!

Reading Eggs is the multi-award winning online reading website that makes learning to read fun for ages 3-13. See for yourself how your child’s reading improves with a free two week trial of Reading Eggs today.

5 Outdoor Activities that Improve Literacy Skills

outdoor kids reading

Outdoor activities are a great opportunity for children to get some fresh air, stretch their legs and enjoy a change of scenery.

Many children can be reluctant to sit down and read a book every day. But there are many outdoor activities you can do together to improve important reading and writing skills while having fun. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

1. Nature walk

Nature walks are a wonderful way to encourage your child’s appreciation for the natural environment. Talk about the things you see, hear, feel and smell. Bring a camera along and take photos of birds, plants, trees, rocks and bodies of water.

When you get home, gather your images and attach them to a large sheet of construction paper. Ask your child to label each photo and write a few sentences to describe them. Reflect on the things you talked about during your nature walk, like the sound of different birds, the texture of certain leaves and the colours of interesting flowers. Older children can try to describe each photo by writing a poem.

2. Scavenger hunt

Scavenger hunts are a widely successful game for young children, and even adults! This is an activity that the whole family can do together. Choose a place to have the hunt, such as the park or in the backyard, and decide what kind of prizes to have at the end. Create a list of things for your children to find. It can be anything, such as a pencil, ball of string, a skipping rope, a book, a toy – the possibilities are endless!

Divide each team into groups of at least two people. Give each group a list of items and a time limit. Your children should have enough time to read the items on the list and find them. You can even be extra creative and write cryptic clues for older children to decipher!

3. Go shopping

Ask your child to help you write down what you need to buy at the supermarket. You can write down all of the items together, or you can even tell your child the items and ask them to try and spell them on their own. This activity is also a helpful way to introduce your child to writing numerals if you’re buying specific quantities of items. You can then go shopping and pick out each item on the list, demonstrating to your child what these words represent in real life.

4. Act out a poem or song

When children act out a beloved poem or song, they learn to appreciate rhyme, rhythm, and the images it paints with a few carefully chosen words. Children grow as readers by connecting feelings with the written word, which sets them on the path towards a lifelong love of reading.

Read a poem or the lyrics of a song with your child. Suggest acting out one particular section or the whole piece. Encourage your child to make facial expressions that convey the character’s feelings, and don’t worry too much about making mistakes – be enthusiastic and keep things fun.

5. Cook together (indoors or outdoors)

Does your child enjoy learning how to whip up their favourite cakes or desserts? Get your child in the kitchen to create their favourite dish, or ask them to help you prepare dinner. Cooking together is not only a lot of fun, but also allows your child to see you following recipes from cookbooks and reading instructions on packages. Before you start, you can sit down with the recipe and reword it in a way that is easy for your child to understand. While you cook, ask them to read out which step comes next.

Special free trial offer: Start your free trial of Reading Eggs here and see how your child’s reading can improve in just weeks.