Encouraging Listening in the Kindergarten Classroom for Children Who Are Blind or Low Vision

From the book Learning to Listen/Listening to Learn: Teaching Listening Skills to Students with Visual Impairments edited by Lizbeth A. Barclay.

By kindergarten, it is important that most of the basic auditory perception and discrimination skills be in place for children with blindness or low vision as academics are beginning in earnest. Children must maintain attention when in a one-on-one session with an adult when working in a small group, or when receiving instruction with the entire class. We teach and expect children at this age to match sounds, follow one- and two-step directions, and recognize cause and effect with sound.

Here are some strategies and activities to facilitate your child’s listening ability in the classroom.

  • Prepare your child for the different sounds he or she will hear at school. Tell your child what to expect and what to do and address his or her curiosity about specific actions or events. Ask questions such as, “What do you do when you hear the school bell,” or tell the child, “Yes, that’s the principal’s voice giving daily announcements,” and “Today, everyone will learn about being safe and what to do when you hear the fire drill alarm. Let’s practice what you will do later today.”
  • Encourage the classroom teacher to make an audio recording of the circle time so your child can share it with you at home and practice the activities in a daily routine.
  • Teach your child to operate a digital player, touchscreen tablet, or CD player. Listening to recorded stories at this age will introduce and prepare the child for more academic learning that will require audio formats.
  • Encourage your child to join with other children in the listening center (a designated area in the classroom in which children can listen to recorded literature while they follow along with the book), and make sure the classroom has the books in an accessible format (braille or color large print).
  • Teach your child to respond to “who, what, where, how, why, and when questions” about his or her daily activities so that he or she is ready for these types of comprehension questions in the language arts lessons.
  • Use technology. Many websites, interactive/audible books and children’s programs are available to provide listening enjoyment while enhancing early concept and literacy skill development through listening.

For more information about developing listening skills in students, read Learning to Listen/Listening to Learn: Teaching Listening Skills to Students with Visual Impairments available in the APH store at aph.org/store.