When children are telling us their stories, it is giving us the opportunity to get to know that child’s interests, and also, an insight into the knowledge and experiences they have. By gaining this knowledge we are able to offer experiences to further inspire, motivate and challenge their thinking and learning.
In my role as an Early Years Facilitator, I have been working with teams of teachers who are thinking about what it means to truly listen to children.
Listening helps us to teach well
When thinking about the emergent curriculum and inquiry learning, the importance of listening becomes a high priority. To engage children in learning, it is important to recognise and build on their skills and interests. To do this, it is crucial that we engage them in conversations, ask effective questions, and truly listen to their answers. Firstly, to understand what they already know and, secondly, to explore what they would like to learn more about and the possibilities for this.
Effective questioning brings insight, which fuels
curiosity, which cultivates wisdom.
– Chip Bell
We teach our children to listen, but do we? Some tips…
The art of listening is an amazing topic to explore. I have delved deep both personally and professionally, and reflected on my skills as an effective listener. As teachers, we continually encourage effective listening skills in children, and I wonder if we are reflecting enough on our own listening. I challenge you to think about your listening skills, and to reflect on the following 5 tips taken from a book called Are You Listening?: Fostering Conversations That Help Young Children Learn by Lisa Burman.
- Pause and reflect on the ways you listen closely to children.
- Pause and become more conscious of the questions you ask.
- Pause and become aware of the time you give children to think before you continue the conversation.
- Pause and become aware of how you might unintentionally lead children to your ideas instead of exploring their own schema.
- Pause and become a more skilled teacher by reflecting on your role as a listener to young learners.
…and it works outside the classroom or centre too!
These tips by no means apply only to listening to children and the role of a teacher!
I have found a key to building and sustaining relationships is listening. The more I have explored and learned, the better my skills have become. Taking the time to listen—truly listen—to our children, our whānau, our friends, our work colleagues, and total strangers can only make the world a better place!
The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand
and be understood.The best way to understand people is to
listen to them.
– Ralph Nichols