Language development requires the skills of listening and understanding. Throughout the day, the teacher can use a variety of methods that will enable the children to utilize their receptive listening skills.
Learn to Listen
If you have heard that language is a two-way street, then there is absolute reasoning in this expression. One direction is expressive language and the other is receptive language. The teacher can use ideas in her lesson plans that will encourage and entice the children to sharpen their receptive language, which is, their listening skill. The sound of the teacher's voice will set the tone for the day. Using a warm and cheerful voice tends to create an atmosphere for wanting to listen. A story read in a monotone or nasally voice will bore both children and adults. So show some enthusiasm the moment that the day begins, as you develop a foundation for developing listening skills in kindergarten students.
Start the day with music, for music is a universal language. Select songs that foster positive feelings toward another or introduce different cultures. Begin to sing while waiting in line or transitioning from one activity to another. This will keep the class occupied and may prevent behavioral problems.
When children listen to music, they are introduced to various styles, such as classical, Christian or folk. They begin to learn the melody and timing. Allow poetry to help develop the listening skill. This helps the children to learn rhyming words, and memorize or perhaps, write poems of their own. A fun way to get the children's attention is to "personalize" poems. Kids love to hear their names mentioned in poetry, stories or songs.
For another article on the importance of music in the classroom, please click here.
Fingerplays capture the attention of younger children, by linking language and action. Fingerplays are always available and are great to use as a time filler.
A wonderful opportunity to build the receptive language skills in children, is to read quality stories. Always introduce the title of the story, the author and the illustrator. The kids will usually remember and recognize these names. As their listening skills develop, so will the amount of questions, and comments and discussions will grow.
The process of developing listening skills in kindergarten students, will also help develop their verbal and mental capacities. The shy child will learn to ask questions and the non-English speaking child will be curious and want to learn more. Always use proper grammar when speaking to the children.
An inexpensive activity, is the "whisper phone", made with PVC pipe. A length of four inches is cut and an "elbow" is attached to each end. Write each child's name on it with a permanent marker. The children may use these when learning new words or reading. As they whisper in the phones, the words are so clearly heard, and the classroom is quiet. The names are easily removed with acetone and sanitized in the dishwasher for the next class to enjoy. What a great tool to use over and over each year!
One of my favorite books, Total Learning, Development Curriculum for the Young Child, by Joanne Hendrick, has been a reference for my classroom and this article.