Attention and Listening

Attention and Listening

Attention and Listening skills are very important. They are the skills that are needed before a child can begin to learn language and fully interact with the world they live in.

  • Attention means being able to notice things by looking at them.
  • Listening means being able to hear things.

The Language Pyramid above shows that children need to be able to notice and hear things in the world around them in order to learn and develop their other language and communication skills.

For example, for a child to be able to pronounce the word ‘car’ properly, the child will go through a process similar to this:

  • look at a real car on the road, notice it and hear the noise it makes
  • hear someone say ‘car’ when they are looking at the object
  • see a toy car and someone showing them how to play with this e.g. rolling the toy car and making noises such as ‘brrr, vrooom’ etc.
  • relating the information they learn through play, to the real object they see on the road
  • understand that when someone says ‘car’ it can mean either the real object, toy, or picture.
  • being able to label ‘car’ when they are shown a photo/toy/real object. At first, children may pronounce the words a little differently e.g. “tar” – this can be part of typical development
  • being able to pronounce ‘car’

In the process above, if the child has not been able to look and listen to the world around them, it doesn’t matter how many times they hear people around them saying ‘car’, they cannot map this word onto anything.

Therefore they do not learn new names for objects, they struggle to develop their play skills, and this impacts their communication and language development. Children develop their attention and listening skills over time.

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