Active listening refers to being fully present and giving your complete attention to the speaker. In particular, young children benefit from having their teachers and parents take this approach to communication. It can help foster children's sense of confidence and self-esteem, while also demonstrating the value of cooperation in relationships and problem-solving.
Active listening is an effective mode of communication with children. Through paying attention, not just to verbal cues but also to non-verbal ones, including eye contact, facial expressions and body language, teachers can develop a sense for how the child is feeling. This is especially important with young children, who may not be able to fully verbalize their feelings yet.
At the same time, active listening helps build children's confidence and self-esteem. When students can tell their teacher is listening to them, they feel better about themselves and gain the confidence to express their thoughts.
Finally, when you practice active listening, you mirror strong communication habits for children. In turn, you demonstrate how the cooperative process of listening to someone and offering feedback is valuable both for you and for them.
ProSolutions Training offers many resources for early childhood educators, including online child care courses. Refer to our course, "The Art of Communication Part I: Listening to Children," to learn more about how to communicate and listen to young children. By the end of the course, you will be able to list four components of active listening and identify three components of therapeutic listening.