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My son needs to improve his listening skills ' as a matter of urgency'

(47 Posts)
tigermoth Sat 16-Jul-05 17:13:31

That's what my year 1's school report says. Without those skills, the teacher says he will be holding himself back in all subjects.

His teacher says he is very bad at following instructions- poor eye contact, won't concentrate if an adult is speaking to him. I know this. He can hear and respond if he wants to but will switch off when he doesn't. He had his hearing checked six months ago. It was fine. He can concentrate when he wants to - spends hours playing imaginary games with friends or his toys.

The report states that these listening skills *can be* (with the implication *should be*) taught at home. How exactly? I feel there is a bit of buck passing happening here. I am happy to work in partnership with the teacher but feel she is blaming us. She has not suggested ways we can improve his listening skills.

Anyway, I know as a suitably worried and concerned parent I will be expected to go in to see her next week. Before I do, can you give me ideas about improving listening skills - strategies that would work with a nearly 6 year old with perfect hearing? I want to go to the meeting full of positive suggestions. Thanks very much.

fishfinger Sat 16-Jul-05 17:16:08


o idea abotu the serious implications of this but I haev trivial ideas

1. have you that soundtracks game? it has a tape of sounds and oyu have to match cards.

2. I try yellling " asto n villa" att he beginning of any command - it makes them listen to somehting THEY think will be more interesting than me going on a dn on

3. make them look at oyu as she said allt he time and play and exagerrated game of him showing oyu he is litstning - like "aha" "mmmm" nodding and " oh yes i see" so he can show oyu he has registered.



Frizbe Sat 16-Jul-05 17:17:00

We went with the talking to said 6 year old ss at the time, followed by agreeing a reward with ss for when he did well, IE we got feedback from his teacher at the end of each half term, and he was rewarded thusly, worked for us, hope it does for you too, I think often with boys, there are just lots of better things to think about (sure this goes for girls too, but dd's not that old yet!) Good luck

beetroot Sat 16-Jul-05 17:22:14

Message withdrawn

fishfinger Sat 16-Jul-05 17:27:14

gets htem almopst every time

Cam Sat 16-Jul-05 19:50:41

Hello Tigermoth, sounds like its a concentration thing as your ds has perfect hearing. Games that increase his powers of concentration might be a good thing to play over the summer, eg. board games.

How well does he concentrate on things he likes, eg. certain books, tv programmes, etc?

I'm wondering if his attention wanders when he's not interested in a subject, or the teacher doesn't present it in an interesting way? (He might get a teacher who is better next year?)

WideWebWitch Sat 16-Jul-05 19:53:42

Love that Aston Villa one. I would have to yell ARSENAL or sometihng but what a great tip. Tigermoth, I think Twiglett posted that she found if she lowered her voice or whispered her boy listened to her better but I can't remember if it was a one off because she had a sore throat or whether it lasted. Good luck, I hope you get some helpful suggestions.

maddiemo Sat 16-Jul-05 19:56:42

Would you consider some private speech therapy. My ds4 has poor listening skills and it has held him back. He has had speech therapy sessions where listening and concentration is worked on. He is only 3.8 so activities would be different for a child your ds age but I wonder if some private SALT would give you ideas.

tigermoth Sun 17-Jul-05 08:07:38

thanks for the suggestions. The concentration issue is a complicted one. At home, Ds will happily concentrate on something he likes (a TV programme, a picture he is drawing) and get totally wrapped up in it. He won't respond when people talk to him, doesn't look up, doesn't answer. I know lots of children do this, but it seems exaggerated in my ds and has always been a characteristic since babyhood. By the time he was 2 years I could take him to the cinema pretty certain he would sit through any children's film. He can be quite dreamy by nature as well.

I know he isn't keen on learning to read and write, but feel this is not because he can't concentrate, it's because he chooses not to concentrate. And he finds these skills hard to learn, so I think he gets put off - he's making progress, but hasn't taken to them naturally.

I don't know how to tackle the choosing not to concentrate thing. My oldest ds had poor concentration, but he gradually grew out of it. For him it was more a behaviour problem not a keeping up in class problem as he easily picked up numeracy and literacy skills as he went along. So for ds1 punishments and rewards worked - but I don't know if simply punishing and rewarding for good listening will work with ds1, as it's more of a learning issue for him.

I have tried audio listening games, as his nursery key worker was also worried about his poor listening skills. ds1 liked hearing the sounds, and could recognise them. I just can't see how playing these games a lot will make ds choose to listen to his teacher in class.

I like your suggestion about Aston Villa cod I have tried the trick of saying 'do you want a sweet' in a soft voice, just to see if ds can actually hear me. I know that works but to actually to put a buzzword at the beginning of any instruction could be really effective. I will give it a go today.

I have played a few board games with ds1. He can concentrate and follow instructions if intrested. Playing games would be a good way of getting him to practice his maths and english skills over the summer holidays anyway.

I don't know whether this is at the root of the problem to be honest. If ds felt more confident with the class work, he'd join in more and concentrate on it. I think he's a proud little boy who chooses to switch off rather than struggle with the work when he sees some children doing it easily. I could be wrong of course, as I am not in the classroom. I know if I ask ds an unwelcome question at home, like 'did you have your spelling test today' or 'where are your shoes' he will clam up. If he doesn't know the answer or can't give me the answer I want to hear, he goes silent. He would never repeat his age till he was 5 years old - still haven't quite worked out why that was. I knew he knew it, but he wouldn't say it.

fishfinger Sun 17-Jul-05 08:10:32

suiund s abit ike ds1 who is a bit of fibbertygibbet

concentrates fro ages n yuh gi oh crap but rushes his work..
kids eh?
wioonder if the teacher was having abd da y when sh wrote the report
id wait ofr next years teacher to assess him

Copper Sun 17-Jul-05 08:11:45

do you think we may be talking about sdme kind of dyslexia here?

Copper Sun 17-Jul-05 08:22:12

I've just come across this - may have some ideas

CHILDREN in Richmond are helping to combat disruption in their own classrooms by learning how to be better at listening.

Local author Helen White is teaching her pioneering programme for making children more attentive at local schools around the borough. Pupils at Grey Court School, Richmond, are trained in 'listening to learn' and 'listening to make friends,' which makes them more effective at taking in information, develops their social skills and improves behaviour in the classroom.

Mrs White said: "We recognised a huge problem in society when children have to be told three times to be quiet in the classroom. When children are taught about the 'listening position' and how to get ready for learning, the teacher can command attention at the right time, whenever it is needed.

"The programme means the kids identify the problems with being disrupted and they love being involved. In our first interactive session, they realise that they might feel angry and upset when no-one has been listening. In the second session, they say that they feel happy and respected if everyone is in the relaxed sitting position, with their feet flat on the floor, prepared for listening."

Her new book on the subject, 'Learning to Listen to Learn,' was praised by the Commissioner for London Schools, Professor Tim Brighouse, who wants to see its strategies widely disseminated in schools throughout the capital.

Mrs White co-wrote the book with her Richmond colleague Christina Evans, after six years of research into auditory and visual attention. As the way in which children learn is becoming increasingly under scrutiny, the authors say that their book will bring about important improvements after just two teaching sessions and a follow-up booster.

Mrs White and Mrs Evans believe that there has been a rapid deterioration in the way people listen to one another, caused partly by posture and increased viewing of television. The book includes scientific research about the neurological basis of listening and physical causes of poor concentration.

Mrs White said: "It's absolutely for adults too and can be used in business. People have never had any training before in how to listen effectively, and it's something that has been missing."

basketcase Sun 17-Jul-05 09:14:00

Copper, that is really interesting about the listening strategy. I was involved in a similar strategy when working. I guess it was a similar idea too often people wrongly assume that a basic life skill we all take for granted,the ability to talk and listen, is something that people can just "do" if behaving properly and that not doing it must be naughtiness or medical problem.
We went back to basics with the whole school (secondary) and discussed what we really mean by communication and how "be quiet" or "work quietly" or "not so loud" are almost pointless statements with many children as it is too subjective. We developed a system where children were actually taught and encouraged to use specific voice types - eg. pairwork voices where they used normal conversation quiet voices, practising taking turns to talk with loads of games and activities until it became a little more normal to listen or talk but not both. Then we had groupwork voices - a little louder, using more inclusive eye contact, more awareness required to make sure all had a chance to contribute, more careful listening etc.
Interestingly, we found that most children find the most difficult place to communicate effectively within a classroom is not the peer groupwork scenario, as hard as it is, but when a teacher talks directly to a pupil while their peers are watching and waiting for an answer. The audience factor seems to add so many new issues into play that many children lose confidence, spend so much energy worrying about the way that others will judge them and the consequences that they resort to the flight, fight, flock or freeze pressure stuff. Also explains why some children just go very quiet, refuse to be involved at all, won’t look at you, won’t acknowledge the situation with this blind hope it will all be over soon and they can "avoid" it all somehow. When this was all explained to them in a basic way at their level, understanding why they felt as they did under pressure, it seemed to help many of them recognise stressful situations for themselves and how to deal with them better - much more of a positive impact than we could have imagined.
I know primary school kids are a bit young to have the psychology explained to them but if their behaviour is discussed with them by going over what happened, how they felt and why it is normal, ok etc. and how they could deal with it better etc., behaviour can be improved. I reckon a lot of times when people say children don’t concentrate is just a convenient excuse to explain why children have gone off task. A teacher would rather think a child isn’t concentrating and therefore is the child’s "problem" than to think that the child has lost interest out of boredom (task set at fault - too long, not interesting enough, too hard/too easy etc.), too embarrassed to give eye contact, lacking confidence to speak up and get involved, don’t possess the skills to understand and explain why they are feeling upset/angry/disinterested etc.
Sorry - long post waffling away again, baby on my knee and may not make much sense. Just found copper’d post interesting and brought it all back to mind.

tigermoth Sun 17-Jul-05 09:51:24

cod, my son's teacher for next year is meant to be really good - I have good vibes about her too. So yes, I am inclined to wait and see what happens. Also as ds is so young for his year group (he won't be six until the end of August) I am sure this has something to do with it. If I didn't have this 'urgent' note on his report I would leave it tbh.

I don't think his teacher was having a bad day - she has told me his listening and concentration has been a problem before, but has not really suggested positive ways I can tackle it. However she is convinced some of the reason lies with his home routine and won't be talked out of this. She says he is sleepy at school so he needs an earlier bedtime. One of his targets on his report was 'to go to bed at a sensible hour each night'. I am not at all happy about a request aimed at me being put on my son's school report, especially when I have explained from my perspective that my son does not seem tired on the amount of sleep he has. Since this issue came up a few months ago, I have really tried to get ds to bed as early as possible, but I don't get back from work till at least 6.00 pm and then there's supper, homework, baths etc to sort out. As it is, ds gets at least 11 and often 12 hours solid sleep a night. At the weekends, on this amount of sleep, ds is not tired during the day, and he never comes home exhausted after a day spent at school. Even after 2 hours at after school playclub he is still raring to go. So IMO tiredness is not the root cause of his listening problem. Various other things in the report imply that my son's school problems couid be cured by me at home -I am sure his year 1 teacher was deliberabely making a point. One reason why I am not looking forward to seeing her again and want to go in with some positive suggestions, not sit through her casting aspersions on ds's home routine. She is in her first year of teaching and is very keen, if stressed. I can understand her concern, but still don't agree with her conculsions.

Copper, ds can form letters ok age and doesn't get the words he knows muddled up that much. I haven't ruled out dyslexia, but also haven't really looked into it. Would poor listening be a sign of this condition? Also in respone to amddiemo'sr message, I agree seeing a SALT privately might help.

Thanks for the book recommendation. I will search google to see if I can get more info on the findings - wonder if I can get a copy from the library?

tigermoth Sun 17-Jul-05 09:52:38

not got time to read your message basketcase - will reply later! - looks very interesting

binkie Sun 17-Jul-05 10:42:38

Do you think he has any short-term memory difficulties? My ds sometimes won't answer on the spelling test question because he genuinely can't recall when put on spot. Tends to come back to him later, or dawns on him if we talk his day through generally.

We have various strategies we use for my ds's combo of listening problems and memory difficulties - this is already long, so let me know if you think you'd like those ideas.

binkie Sun 17-Jul-05 10:53:15

Actually, my message wasn't that long in the end - deleted a whole lot of wurbling about my son.

So, things/games to help memory & listening:
- whenever he's given an instruction, get him to repeat it back before he does it;
- "I went on holiday and in my suitcase I put ..." round-robin game, you know, where each person in turn has to say what the one before said + add something;
- daily commands-game (I got this off an ADHD site): first day, give him 2 things to do (put hat on table; close door) - when you say Go he has to do both, no prompting; next day make it 3 things; and so on. Ds likes this, because it's about breaking his own record.

ScummyMummy Sun 17-Jul-05 11:37:03

His teacher doesn't sound very nice, tm. Very cheeky and sly to put bedtime as a target on his report, IMO. Maybe the thing that would help his listening skills most is a nice break from school over the summer? I think lots of games is a good idea too. And making sure you have his attention via a key word as coddy suggests is inspired. How does he respond to praise? If he likes your approval it might be worth commenting on good listening and good eye contact. "I like it when you look at me I talk to you because I can tell you're listening." type stuff. Also explain the concept to him via stuff he loves perhaps? "In the army, people have to listen to the captain... " I'm sure the fact that he's almost a full year younger than most of the kids in his class has a lot to do with this, you know.

Tortington Sun 17-Jul-05 11:46:58

my son is like this. its about interest. so when i go off on one about tidying up or something - i can tell hes gone off to "jacobland" after the first 5 mins - its nice int here - he's told me so! so i tried jigsaws - cheap as chips from a charity shop - he can spend 10 mins at a time doing them and then doing them has a purpose like for nannas birthday - as when its doen we frame it and giveit to a relative who HAVE to smile and say "ohh wow"

Tortington Sun 17-Jul-05 11:47:36

sorry point of that was - maybe you could tel teacher that he concentrates perfectly well at home as you employ techniques to keep his interest!

aloha Mon 18-Jul-05 10:02:01

agree 100% with 'sly and cheeky' tbh. He is only five. What about not reporting back to this teacher at all. She'll only annoy you - and wait and see what happens next year.

stacijc Mon 18-Jul-05 10:06:35

soory to be the one who adds this but have u looked into aspergers/autism?

Not necessarily autism but sounds SIMILAR to a freinds daughter....she has just been diagnosed aspergers (in yr10!!) and has trouble concentrating because she simply CANNOT understand but she too will spend hours doing one simple thing.

Also on a different oils are suposed to help with concentration

Jimjams Mon 18-Jul-05 10:08:45

she put bedtme on his school report???? Cheeky cow!!!!! Personally I would complain to the HT about that (unless the bedtime was embarrasingly late )

Celia2 Mon 18-Jul-05 10:09:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

jellyhead Mon 18-Jul-05 10:19:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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