The Art & Science of Listening

Tip – Listen to your students the way you would like your students to listen to you.

Here is how “listen” is defined in the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (p.1049). “To make an effort to hear something.”

According to current teachings, the following tips form the basics for excellent communication. They actually come to us from the world of business where interpersonal communication is highly valued as an important key to success.

What is good about these is that they are catching. Once you use them enough with your students, your students are likely to comfortably and naturally use them with you, peers, and others.

  • Look directly into your student’s left eye as he or she talks. That gives you a stronger point of focus as you try to understand what he or she is saying.
  • Be on the same level as your student.
  • Be as much as you can in the same position as your student.

Once you are set, here is the best part. Speak for 30% of the time and listen for 70%. To aid in this process there are special words of communication that can encourage your student to talk. “Oh, uh huh, good, then” and “Tell me more about…” There are also open-ended questions like these that work. “How did you do that? Why did that happen?” and “What was that like?”


Look at the letters in these two words LISTEN and SILENT. Yes, they are the same. It is interesting to ponder the relationship of these two actions.

  • You are silent when you listen.
  • You communicate through silence as well as through words.

*Adapted from Make Your Own Preschool Games: A Personalized Play and Learn Program by Sally Goldberg, pp. 183-184

August! The Month of Dignity

Here is a subtle nuance for this month–learning from silence, something you do not hear. What is your student not talking about anymore? With your new listening skills go ahead and pursue what has been happening at school and when on the playground. Maybe there is a favorite game no longer being mentioned. Use your new listening skills in your own dignified way to communicate and find out.

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