Help for Listening


1.  Direct Teach listening skills.  Have your SLP visit the room to work on listening strategies.

2.  Have an auditory/visual attention signal that all students respond to consistently.  Use fingerplays for little ones, funny songs for older kids, hand-clapping sequences, or sign language to bring about attention.

3.  Teach concept vocabulary.  Often, students don’t know what to do because they don’t know the concept---sequential (first-last), spatial (prepositions), colors, number concepts, & shape concepts, often confuse little ones.  Your SLP can provide direct instruction in concept vocabulary.

4.  Arrange your room so that all students are facing you during instruction.  Avoid having students facing away from the blackboard.  Students with attentional issues or disabilities should always be seated near you and facing you, as they need to draw on visual cues to understand what you say verbally.

5.  Pairing modes of instruction, such as verbal-visual will help students attend.  Use the overhead projector with a worksheet displayed while doing group work to keep kids focused.  Provide written/pictorial directions on your chalkboard.  Provide paragraphs or material presented orally in writing as you read aloud to help the verbal-visual connection.  There is also a variety of instructional software that pairs verbal and visual.  You could also see the information sheet on modifications for oral language.

6.  Simplify, simplify.  When you give directions, provide only 2-3 at most and say these in small, doable steps.  Try not to overwhelm your kids with multi-tasking.

7.  Repeat and repeat.  Paraphrasing and repeating will help children who didn’t understand or hear the directions or information the first time.

8.  Use positive reinforcement with those students doing the desired behavior...say, “I like the way that ____ is listening,” or “I can always count on ____ to be a good listener.”  Then as others cue into the desired behavior, pat them on the back or say an encouraging word.

9.  Set a listening purpose each time you want students listen to you...say things like, “I want you to be ready to tell me ________ when I finish reading,” or “Joe, I’m going to be calling on ready with the answer.”

10.  Give your students written copies of questions before you teach or assign work.  They can use the questions as a guide for listening. 

11.  Remove supplies and other items from desks and table tops when not in use.

12.  Have only two-three students share community supplies.  When more kids share supplies, attention to task decreases, noise increases.

13.  Provide structured routines with set expectations for each activity during the school day.  When expectations are inconsistent, kids don’t always know if they need to listen.

14.  Use a slow, calm speaking voice when providing information.  Children, especially little ones, need time to process information.  When you speak slowly, this helps children with processing.

15.  Think about placement of students during each activity.  Is this an activity where they need to see up close?  If so, you need to have areas where you can pull all of your students close to you in a group...when reading aloud or demonstrating a worksheet, children can’t see the page if you are across the classroom, even if you walk around the room as you read.

16.  Modify the environment to help your students listen.  Closing doors between classrooms, tennis balls on the chair legs, sharpening pencils before listening times, not allowing students to move about the room during instructional times, adding carpeting to your room, & placing heavy curtains on windows to insulate sound reverberation in the room. 

17.  Setting the tone...create a calm and relaxing tone in your classroom.  Having adequate space to move about without bumping into each other, using lower lighting and incandescent lighting, soothing music and scents can all bring about a sense of calm.  You will be surprised how well kids focus with a few “pleasing” background touches.



For more information, contact:


Brenda Addington, MA, CCC-SLP

Speech-Language Pathologist














Classroom Environmental and Presentation Modifications

for Oral Language - Expression and Comprehension


1.          Teach content specific vocabulary prior to introducing your unit of study.  If your students know what words mean, that will make content presentation easier to comprehend.

2.         Preferential seating, where the student is nearby the teacher and facing the teacher, blackboard or instructional areas at all times.

3.         Pairing Verbal Instruction with Visual Aids as often as possible

            -group worksheets displayed on overhead projector

            -directions written and numbered on the chalkboard

            -provide written paragraphs for the student to “follow along” as you read aloud

-provide written versions of questions for student to be listening for as you read a story (they write answers to questions as they hear you read)       

4.         Ask questions, set listening tasks prior to presenting material orally...for example, say  to the student, “I want you to listen for   __________” or say, “Be able to tell me __________ when I am finished reading.”

5.         Provide books on audio tapes or computer software applications (Start to Finish Books, Buildability or Intellipics) for student to follow along and use for rereads and answering questions.

6.         Use picture supported text (Pix Writer, Writing with Symbols) to help with reading skills, Boardmaker for helping students follow daily schedules

7.         Use word prediction software (such as CoWriter )to help with writing/sentence structure.

8.         Use voice supported software (such as Simple Text or Write Outloud) to help with spelling and writing skills.

9.         Provide a structured environment with regular routines and expectations. 

10.       Provide routines for completing assignments and giving/turning in homework.  

11.        Prepare the student for times when they have to listen or respond orally...say, “Joe, I am going to call on you in a minute, be ready.”

12.       Repeat and paraphrase information and complex terms.

13.       Give clear, concise directions in small increments.

14.       Use cue cards to help the student complete difficult tasks.  Have difficult tasks broken into small, doable steps in written form.

15.       Use verbal cuing strategies such as fill-in’s (If it’s not big, it’s (small)), phonemic cues (It starts with a “b”), descriptor cues, (It’s round, shiny and you spend it).




For more information, contact:  Brenda Addington, MA, CCC-SLP , Jessamine County Schools.