Listening and speaking well are two of the most important skills that any person can have. These are also key components of the Common Core State Standards for 1st grade. Learning these skills, early in life, can give your child distinct academic and social advantages…and they are easy to instill!
If your child is getting ready to start 1st grade, or has already started, there are several things you can do to practice exchanging ideas through discussion and conversations and promote active listening and speaking.
Have a “no-electronics” night. Use this time to read a story together or play a board game, and then discuss it. Be sure to ask some questions about key details in the story or about the game. This will demonstrate how well he listened or paid attention. Have him go back and check the text or game board for details, if necessary.
Have a mealtime discussion about a recent family event that you all attended, a movie that you watched together, or something that happened that day at school or work. Sharing this kind of information reinforces that your child’s opinion is important.
Start a parent-child book club. Two or three families should read an appropriate 1st grade book (for example, any of the Magic Tree House books by Mary Pope Osborne), and take turns hosting a book club discussion for children and parents.
For these activities, follow simple and clear rules for all participants, such as:
Take turns…one speaker at a time
Respectful ways to agree or disagree
Respectful ways to ask questions for clarity
Teaching your child to make a conscious effort to listen and speak well embeds good habits. These good habits will continue to enhance their school experience and should continue through their adult professional and personal life.
Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.