Attention and Listening Skills


Good listening skills are important for being able to join in with activities and interacting with others.
The development of listening and attention skills is essential to promote a child’s understanding and use of language.

In Reception children will usually:

  • Sit and listen for small and large group activities for around 10 minutes e.g. circle time or listening to a story with minimal adult support
  • Concentrate on adult chosen activities including table top games e.g. puzzles, books and mark making for around five minutes
  • Concentrate for longer on a task of their choosing
  • Follow instructions without stopping what they are doing; known as ‘two channelled attention’
  • Remember at least 2 out of 3 items they have been asked to find

You can help by:

  • Making sure you look at the child you are speaking to
  • Ensure you have the child’s attention before giving instruction e.g say the child’s name first and wait for him/her to look.
  • Minimise distracting background noise both inside and outside the classroom
  • Minimise visual distractions, especially behind the teacher
  • Try to keep children’s desk free from clutter

  • Action rhymes (e.g head shoulders knees and toes or 10 fat sausages sizzling in a pan).
  • Table top games like lotto games, card games-pair-snap
  • Musical bumps /statues
  • Listening to sounds on CD – there are commercial materials available, or you can make your own. Ask the pupils to listen to a sound and guess what it is or stand up when they hear a particular sound
  • Sound bingo – listen to sounds on CD and covering the correct picture.
  • Sound walk – listen for different sounds they hear on a walk outside or around school, then use these to paint a picture or compose a group display.
  • Use musical instruments and other sounds to talk about long, short, quiet, loud sounds.
  • Tap a rhythm pattern and ask the child to repeat.