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Get talking ... and listening

One of the most crucial things you can do to support your child is to talk with them and listen to them.

It’s important to help your child with speaking and listening because:

  • Your child’s ability to speak and listen well will be a good foundation for their future learning
  • If they are good speakers and listeners they will be more successful  at reading and writing
  • If they can communicate well with others, it will help them to make friends more easily
  • They will become more independent and be able to learn about the world
  • Your child will learn to express their feelings and not become frustrated so easily

At school younger children will learn to:

  • Think about what they say and choose the right words
  • Speak fluently and confidently
  • Listen to instructions from the teacher
  • Listen to their classmates before speaking and take turns

As they get older they will:

  • Join in group discussions and make useful points
  • Present to an audience, expressing their opinions clearly
  • Take part in decision-making and debate
  • Learn how language varies in different situations

How can you help ?

Put listening to your child first:

  • Show your child how to be a good listener by listening to them and others
  • Be patient: don’t interrupt or finish their sentences for them
  • Give your child your attention: for example, don’t check your mobile phone at the same time as they are talking to you.
  • Show you’re listening: ask questions about what they say, ask their opinions
  • Listen to your child reading aloud regularly

Be a clear speaker:

  • Speak confidently, using the right words and set an example by talking in full sentences
  • If English is not your first language, the most important thing is that you speak your own language confidently and well
  • Use clear, simple directions for tasks and behaviours
  • When your child follows direction, show you notice: praise them for listening to you

Get involved every day:

  • Discuss their day with them when you see them after school
  • Try to have a family meal together as often as possible
  • Encourage your child to talk about their views and interests with others
  • Ask them about their homework and get involved with it
  • Switch off television and laptops well before bedtime: chat or read a bedtime story together instead

Have fun speaking and listening together:

  • Play family games together, like I Spy, Charades, Chinese Whispers and Articulate
  • Nursery rhymes, songs, jokes and puppets are an important way of helping younger children learn language
  • Re-tell familiar stories and have fun making up your own
  • With older children, read books and poetry aloud together
  • Discuss and debate issues in the news

…and look at these websites for a few more ideas:


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