Listening and Speaking Background Information for Teachers and Parents

Grade Levels: K-3

This page contains information to support educators and families in teaching K-3 students about listening and speaking skills  The information is designed to complement the BrainPOP Jr. movie Listening and Speaking. It explains the type of content covered in the movie, provides ideas for how teachers and parents can develop related understandings, and suggests how other BrainPOP Jr. resources can be used to scaffold and extend student learning.

Remind your children that listening and speaking are skills, just like reading, writing, or drawing. Developing and improving skills take practice. Your children should know the proper ways to convey, exchange, and understand information effectively in order to communicate and interact with classmates, friends, family members, and others.

Review with your children that they use their ears, eyes, bodies, and their brains to listen. Being a good listener requires careful attention. When they listen to someone speak, they should be quiet and respectful. It’s difficult to listen to someone if you’re talking! They should pay attention to the speaker and make eye contact to show that they are listening. They can give nonverbal cues and use body language to show their understanding. They can nod in agreement, shake their head, smile, frown, or laugh in response to the speaker. Together, discuss other nonverbal cues people give to communicate how they feel.

As they listen, your children should visualize what the speaker is saying, especially if they are listening to a story or preparing to follow directions. Listeners can use their imagination to make pictures in their heads as they listen. This will enable them to better understand and remember information. Remind children to pay attention to main ideas and important details and encourage them to take notes as they listen. A speaker might give clues about essential information, and listeners can listen to key phrases such as “Remember that . . . “ or “Don’t forget to . . .” which signal that critical details will be mentioned.

Remind children that when they are talking to people, they must take turns talking. People cannot hear each other when several people speak at a time. How do they feel when they get interrupted? Children should treat people with the same respect as they would like to be treated. This means waiting for the speaker to finish and not cutting in or interrupting. It is crucial for everyone to know that if they do not understand something, they should not be afraid to ask questions. They can ask the speaker to explain something further or repeat themselves. Remember, speakers want to be understood!

It is also important for children to understand that disagreements will occur. If they disagree with someone, they should wait until it is their turn to speak and then explain their reasons for disagreeing. They can start a sentence by saying, “I disagree because. . . .” They should not interrupt a person while they are talking in order to disagree with them. Listeners should listen to everything first before they make a judgment or develop an opinion. Information in the conversation might change the way they think.

Some children may be uncomfortable or nervous about speaking in front of other people. Give them plenty of encouragement and arm them with techniques they can employ to be confident, effective speakers. Speaking clearly is imperative. Remind children that when they communicate, they share information. They want to be sure that listeners understand what they are trying to communicate so they should speak clearly. If they are talking to the whole class or a large group, they should talk loudly enough so that everyone in the room can hear. They should speak slowly enough to enunciate and pronounce all the words clearly. Speakers should make eye contact with members of the audience to connect with listeners. If children are reading a story out loud, encourage them to read with feeling. They may want to talk louder at exciting parts or softer at scary or suspenseful parts. Encourage them to use their bodies and move around a bit while they read. It’s much more exciting to listen to a speaker if they are excited too!