Monday, September 8, 2008

I'm All Ears: What is "Focused Listening?"

Did you know the ear is fully functional at four months after conception? All sounds of mother's breathing, digestion, heartbeat, singing, and speaking are perceived by this new little life inside her womb. Amazing.

Now that your little one is bounding around, interacting with his or her world in a whirlwind of scraped knees and first words, what happens to that listening ability? This ability "is of utmost importance to every aspect of learning--physical, social, emotional, and intellectual," according to Lorna Heyge, Ph.D., and Audrey Sillick, founders of the Musikgarten Music and Movement Series.

Listening activities in our music class invite your child to
1) become a part of their community of peers as the children gather around the CD player or teacher,
2) try on a little independence as parents remain seated and observe silently,
3) listen to a single sound source and recreate that sound in their own special way.

These things are simple, but only if children can truly focus on one sound. It's challenging to pick out one sound when we are inundated with noise all day long. Loud trucks, car horns, lawn mowers, refrigerator fans, even flourescent lights, not to mention the human sounds we pick up on...a barrage of environmental sounds.

Try a focused listening session at home. When you hear a bird chirping in the tree, for example, encourage your child to just listen, without talking or moving. Then, have fun chirping like birds together!

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