Children feel valued when they are listened to, it makes them feel important and excited that “oh… so you are interested in what I am saying”. Listening to children builds up their self-esteem, independence, confidence and even their attention-span. When you listen to children, you are giving your time, your listening ear to hear what it is they have to say. Sometimes when I’m walking and I observe a child, with their mom for example, the child is asking the mom “mom are we going to go to the park” and the mom would ignore the child and shun the child off. The parent makes the child feel unworthy, upset and not important.
I feel as parents, number one should play a big role in having to listen to their children. The child would feel secure and able to talk about anything that’s worrying them or even get advice. In addition to this, there can be barriers to children that have special needs, i.e. hearing impairments, or lack of communication skills due to a learning disability. Some children may find it hard to communicate effectively with others because of their language or speech impairments, (listening could be for some children, maybe behavior disorder) ADHD etc.
As early years educators/teachers/practitioners it takes commitment to listen to children because you are giving them your time, your listening ear to hear what they have to say. Moreover, by listening to children, you are putting that child’s needs first. Allowing the child to learn how to communicate effectively with adults, in conversation. By doing this, the child is also building their social skills and intellectual development (processing information i.e. use of vocabulary).
Teachers that work with young children should always come down to the child’s level, speaking clearly and using appropriate terminology in order for the child to understand and process what is being said. The child learns how to interact socially with peers during conversations. When we don’t listen to children, this could lead to something very serious. Children for example, that are being abused, have no understanding of who to talk to and what to say, why, because they don’t think that person will value what they say as being important. Instead the child keeps everything inside, until it gets worse and tragedy hits.
“Too often children in vulnerable situations are not heard by those who should be looking out for their interests”
Again ensuring children are participating and involved in all aspects of their learning and development… “It’s importance for children to take part in planning activities, which shows inclusive practice, meeting the Child’s needs.” Adults listening ear builds self-esteem/confidence, adults learn more about the child and how they interact well in a one to one conversation with adults. The earlychildhood.org.uk website from the Early Childhood Unit (ECU) at the National Children’s Bureau in England, highlights the importance and benefits of listening to children.
By Marian Adejokun
Why attend Childcare & Education Expo?
Join over 2,500 like-minded individuals from the early years & primary sector who are dedicated to improving their practice and their education settings.