Guest blog post: How your front door can become a daily learning experience
Today’s blog post comes from Sarah Leonard, a qualified Speech and Language Therapist and mum to Lexi. Here she talks about different ways of developing listening skills in the early years and how even your front door can become a daily learning experience…
Life with Lexi has started to fly by. I’m not sure when it happened but Lexi is now a fully-fledged toddler; walking, babbling, pointing and dancing! I love her dancing – she bobs and swings her hips all day long. I could quite literally be banging a spoon on a pan as I cook tea and Lexi would stop what she was doing and move to the beat!
I have been wondering if her ability to tune into music is because from a very early age I have been encouraging her listening skills – because listening skills are key to learning language.
When Lexi came into my life it was like my world suddenly exploded. I started to notice all the tiny things about my life that would be new for Lexi, things that I could share with her. I realised how many noises I recognised and used every day that Lexi wasn’t yet aware of; like the time the oven alarm went off and I rushed into the kitchen. Lexi got upset because in her eyes I had just upped and left with no warning. The next time it went off I stopped and held my hand to my ear and exclaimed ‘I can hear the oven, listen!’ and I took Lexi with me so that she could hear the noise.
My favourite listening time of the day is when someone comes to visit. We have a stone driveway so as soon as a car pulls up or someone walks on it you can hear a great crunching noise. As soon as I hear that first crunch I stop what I’m doing, hold my hand to my ear and show with my facial expressions that I’m excited. I might gasp or exclaim ‘Listen!’ to help Lexi tune into the sound. Next we hear a knock on the door or the door open – because Lexi is an awful sleeper this can often be quiet as our visitors know they will get my wrath if they wake Lexi from her nap – but because it is quiet it means Lexi has to listen and concentrate on the noise even more. Footsteps then follow as our guest walks into the house and finally Lexi gets her reward for listening, because someone she knows and loves enters the room and showers her with smiles and attention!
To start with Lexi would look at me puzzled as I stopped what we were doing, and just became excited when she saw the visitor. The more we stopped and listened the more she began to realise the pattern, and she would start to get excited and anticipate with me when she heard someone approaching the house. The front door has become a simple yet effective way to teach her to listen.
There are so many things to listen out for around our house; the phone ringing, the dogs walking past, the toast popping, the electric tooth brush, the bins being emptied, the washing machine going around and then beeping when it’s finished, the post dropping to the floor as it comes through letter box, a police car driving past, the kettle boiling…the list goes on. It just takes a little time to stop and listen and you suddenly realise how filled our lives are with noises!
I CAN is the children’s communication charity and our vision is a world where all children have the communication skills they need to fulfil their potential. To find out more about I CAN visit our website www.ican.org.uk or if you have concerns about a child’s talking, listening or understanding please contact the I CAN Help Enquiry Service.