Help Your Child Talk: Toddler Listening Games

Here's extract number 10 from How To Help Your Child Talk and Grow Smarter: your chance to learn more about the way your child learns to talk.

Last week, we looked at games you can play with your baby. This week's extract moves on to think about toddlers and suggest some activities you may enjoy that will support your active toddler's listening skills.

If you're a new reader, CLICK HERE to read How To Help Your Child Talk and Grow Smarter from the very beginning.This link takes you to the first post, so you can read the extracts in sequence. At the end of each week's post you'll see a link to take you on to the next extract. I try to post every Friday, by noon GMT.

Listening: toddlers
Listening skills still matter to your child as he grows into an active and lively toddler. He needs to run and have fun, and he needs quiet times every day, just with you.

Remember to end each day with a story before bedtime. Settle down in a comfortable place with him, maybe after his bath when he feels relaxed and happy. Use a simple book, with bright pictures, and be prepared to read the same book many times. Your child loves familiar things; they make him feel safe.

Keep talking and playing with him regularly. Read stories to him, sing nursery rhymes together and talk about things he sees.

Listening: toddler activities: jack in the box
Use a jack in the box to show your child the fun in listening for a signal. Make sure he enjoys playing with his toy then introduce the idea of waiting. Hold his hands, say his name and wait until he looks at you. Then say, “go” and help him press the button that makes the puppet jump. Press the button immediately when you say “go”. Those moments of waiting increase his excitement, until the toy bobs up, keeping his attention development going alongside his listening skills.

Listening: toddler activities: noise - makers
Collect together pairs of instruments. Try rattles or squeaky toys, tambourines, drums or rattles that you make yourself by filling yoghurt pots with rice, sugar, sand and so on. Always make sure that you cover the pot carefully to prevent your child trying to eat the contents.

Play with two of the noisemakers, so your child becomes familiar with the sounds they make. Place them on a table and then rattle one of the matching noisemakers out of his sight, to see if he can find the pair by listening alone.

Ring the changes by using two or more noisemakers in sequence, so he learns to copy rhythms.

Listening: toddler activities: sound lotto
Record some everyday sounds yourself, in preparation for a game of sound lotto with your child. Leave a gap of a few seconds between each sound, and collect a picture to illustrate each one. Include bird song, a cat, a vacuum cleaner, water running, and any other everyday noise your child will find familiar.

Put two or three cards in front of your child and give him some counters. Make sure he is listening. You may need to say “listen” and wait to gain his attention. You know you have his attention when he looks at your face. Then play one of the sounds on the tape recorder. Let him put a counter on the correct picture.

As he becomes more skilful, put out more cards or play two or three of the sounds before allowing him to use the counters.

Come back next week for another extract. A link will appear HERE.

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I write this Communication Blog

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Frances Evesham: on the run around Europe for years, with only a husband, three children and a succession of opinionated cats to keep me out of trouble. Somerset stopped me in my tracks. Now I walk in the country and breathe sea air. I will get around to cleaning the house soon.

I've been a speech therapist, a professional communication fiend and a road sweeper. I sometimes work in the criminal courts to uphold fair questioning of people with special needs.

I smell the roses, lavender and rosemary as I cook with a glass of wine in one hand and a bunch of chillies in the other. Writing historical romances and books on communication leaves enough time to enjoy bad jokes and puns and wish I’d kept on with the piano lessons.