Help your child to listen better…without him realizing you’re doing it!

At Where I Can Be Me®, we love coming up with fun ways to learn. We think it’s pretty clear that when a child enjoys learning, he (or she) is much more likely to stick with it, and remember what has been taught. Since March is Listening Awareness Month, we thought we’d share some fun games to help your child practice his listening skills. Working on listening can make for better conversations, stronger relationships, and an easier time finding common ground to connect with others.

  • Play Simon Says®: Odds are your child has played this one before, but you can make the game much more valuable by emphasizing the importance of listening before you begin. Since the rules call for your child to follow an instruction only if you say “Simon Says” first, this activity can emphasize the importance of paying attention to details. This is a lesson that can be a big help in social situations.
  •  Make Story Time into a Guessing Game: This activity works especially well with chapter books, though it can work with picture books as well. Choose a book your child hasn’t read before and read it aloud together. After each chapter, or every few pages, ask your child to predict what will happen in the next part of the story. Have him (or her) base his guess off what happened in the last part of the story.
  • Try a List-Making Game: To play a list-making game, start by picking a theme such as items you bring on vacation or foods to bring on a picnic. Before adding an item to the list, each player must name the items the other players have already chosen. The longer the game goes on, the harder each player must work to listen and remember the list. Try picking a new theme each time you play keep the emphasis on close listening.
  •  Go on a Sound Walk: This is a game that can be played inside the house, but is especially fun to play outside once spring arrives. Tell your child that you are going for a walk, with the goal of hearing as many sounds as possible. As you move from room to room, or across the yard, have your child point out as many sounds as he can.
  • Play 20 questions with a twist: Instead of playing a typical game of 20 questions, try giving your child 20 clues to guess what you’re describing. It may be easier to start with only 10 clues, and to pick a theme such as animals or television shows. Have your child listen to your series of clues and base his guess off what he’s heard.

Close listening is important for building strong friendships at any age. Whether a friendship is in its beginning stages, or has lasted over many years, listening is an important way that friends show interest in one another’s lives and show that they care about each other. While these games don’t encompass all the skills a child needs to make friends, they are a great way to enforce a skill that is essential to any strong relationship.


Isa Marrs is the Founder and Executive Director of the Where I Can Be Me® social skills program. She is a board-certified speech-language pathologist who specializes in pragmatic language (social skills) disorders in children. Read More