All of us, myself included, can improve the situation we create for listening and learning to occur. Let's look at 3 areas that we should consider: rate of speech, speaking patterns and listening patterns.
Rate of Speech
The average adult speaks at a rate of 160-170 wpm (words per minute). However, a child's central nervous system processes speech and language at a significantly slower rate:
4th grade - 124-128 wpm
Middle School - 135 wpm
High School - 140 wpm
What does 120 wpm actually sound and feel like to you?
1.This link provides examples of 150, 200 and 250 wpm - match your rate of speech with the examples.
2. Mark 120 words on a page and clock how fast you read it aloud - if less than a minute, try slowing down.
Dinner needs cooked. The laundry needs changed. The dog needs walked. And the neighbor needs to borrow a yard tool. And of all of this needs done in the next 10 minutes. We are often so rushed with day-to-day responsibilities that our verbal interactions simply try to keep up with the rest of our focus and efforts.
However, IF you want to increase your child's ability to listen to you, please keep in mind these 5 speaking patterns:
1. Speak at eye level with your child. This provides a clear visual and auditory (hearing) pathway of information.
2. Reduce distractions. Leave a noisy room, turn off the TV or gaming device, put down your book or tablet.
3.Use a slow and clear voice.
4. Define your purpose, "I need to speak to you about..."
5. Encourage your child to ask for clarification. Praise them for listening.
If we want our kids to listen well, we must provide them with a model of what excellent listening looks like. Keep in mind these 5 patterns while listening to your child:
1. Face your child, maintain eye contact and lean toward him/her.
2. Give your full attention. Put devices, crafts, tools, food - to the side.
3. Be patient and don't rush your child.
4. Take interest in what your child is saying. This will encourage him/her to speak freely.
5. Let you child finish speaking and allow for short pauses before responding.
Try one new pattern this week, and observe how your child responds. Try another one - and keep practicing.
You may just find that your child is an incredible listener!