Rosemary London has worked at Aldenham Prep School, part of the Aldenham Foundation , for over ten years. She is the Foundation Stage Leader and Reception Class Teacher (job-share).
Image credit: Ky on Flickr
In Reception room staff sometimes use a chant to gain the children’s attention. ‘Are you listening?’ we call. ‘Yes, we are!’ they respond. However we adults know that very often they are not!
“Listening and Attention” is a major part of the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum. It is a strand of ‘Communication and Language’, one of 3 prime areas of learning and development which are considered vital to future learning. Children cannot achieve the benchmark ‘Good Level of Development’ at the end of the key stage unless they demonstrate good skills in Listening and Attention.
In every Reception class there are children who do and do not, can and cannot listen and pay attention. Anecdotally, children are becoming less skilled in listening and attention in our modern world. We felt we had a group who found listening and attention particularly challenging so for these children we introduced a short-term intervention project, taking our initial inspiration from ‘Teaching Children to Listen’ (Spooner, L. and Woodcock, J. Bloomsbury Academic, 2010). The purpose of the sessions is to overtly teach, practise and reward four key skills using age appropriate techniques – games, puppet play, role-play and dvd clips. The four key skills are: sit still, look at the person who is talking, listen to all the words, stay quiet so everyone can listen.
We noticed a rapid development in the children’s understanding of what was being asked of them, their skills and their ability to transfer these skills from focussed activities to everyday classroom situations.
As a result we began to teach the skills of listening and attention overtly, in a regular timetabled slot, to all the whole class group. We continue to do so. Within the class there are still children who interrupt, lose attention and become distracted, however now the children and their teachers share a common point of reference and the children have an understanding of what ‘good listening’ means and what is expected of them.