Did you know the day after Thanksgiving is the National Day of Listening? I didn’t know either.
In 2008, an organization called StoryCorp launched a day set aside for families to take time to tell and record their stories. It’s a day to interview each other and share a family history.
But when I first saw the title I thought of something else. We tell the children, often, “use your ears”, “it’s time to listen”, but do we show them what listening is?
How many times has a child come up to you, patted you on the leg calling, “teacher, teacher”. And you just continued what you were doing because you had to get it done. Or you told the child, “just a minute. I need to finish this” and then never got back to her.
Have you ever had a conversation with an adult that wasn’t listening? It’s pretty frustrating. Now think how a young child must feel as they navigate their way through all the social rules. Are we helping or hindering them?
I think we should take a step back and reflect on the ways we model listening.
When I child needs your attention, do you stop and look them in the eye, nodding your head and remarking that you understand? Or do you just look over and say, “oh how fun”.
Too often we really don’t listen and that behavior is what children think is the acceptable behavior – we are, after all, the models from which they learn. So how about this,
Next time a child has something to say, stop what you’re doing. Sit down. Look him in the eye and really hear what he is saying. Really give him your ear. Have a conversation. When it’s done (and sometimes it may take awhile), smile and go back to what you were doing.
Teach by example.