Monday, November 12, 2012

Virtue in Focus: Attentiveness

This is the fifth post in my series "Virtues in Focus."
Click here to read the rest.

Listening is different from hearing. It is one of the concepts that struck me when I was training to be a Kindermusik educator three years ago.

Hearing is biological. You hear with your ears. It happens simply, naturally, automatically. A sound reaches your ear. You hear it.

The same goes for seeing. You see something in your line of vision. But it doesn't mean that you actually see it. It’s like when you’re reading and your mind is a million miles away. You read the words, turn the pages, but then suddenly realize that you don’t have any idea about what you have just read! 

Being Attentive 

Listening, as opposed to just hearing, requires effort, concentration, and brain power to process what you are hearing. It is an important skill for children to have as information is mostly relayed through the spoken word. Listening leads to learning. And between a husband and his wife, knowing how to listen leads to a good relationship!

In the same manner, instead of emptily looking with our eyes, observing carefully is something that should be trained and cultivated.

Games for Attentive Watching 

What’s Missing? – Lay down five to six trinkets or small objects in a straight line. Ask your child to name all the items one by one to commit to memory. Change the set of trinkets often. We used our Think-Ets and had enormous fun! (It's available at our shop.) 

Memory Game – Get any matching game that you have around the house and challenge your child to a memory game. For young children, start with a small number of pairs and increase gradually.

I Spy – Playing “I Spy” either with a book or your surroundings will provide hours of fun as you look carefully for what is being asked for. This is also a listening exercise. I remember playing this game when Little T was younger and we were learning phonics. I would say, “I spy with my little eye something that starts with ‘buh.’” We also made it into a guessing game: “I spy with my little eye something that is round, flat, and used for eating.”

Games for Attentive Listening

Listening Ear Massage – In Kindermusik classes, teachers always ask children to massage their ears from top to bottom. It is a Brain Gym activity that improves listening and memory skills. So next time you want your child to listen, try this simple exercise before saying what you want to say.

Simon Says – Play this classic game with your child in its original version or make up your own. We play this anywhere, even in our car. “Mama says clap three times then pinch your nose!” My kids love it!

Sound Bingo – We love sound bingo games! We have the ABC Sound Bingo by DoRe&Me. But you can easily make your own version using this free resource from Lesson Sense. Basically, you’ll listen to a sound and look for the matching picture on your bingo card. This will provide hours of fun!

Books to Read

We love the character Big Anthony in Tomie dePaola’s Strega Nona books! Big Anthony is Strega Nona’s bumbling assistant who DOESN’T listen and observe at all. We had fun spotting instances of when he is being inattentive and causes havoc around him! 

Another story that we enjoyed reading is "Why The Pina Has A Hundred Eyes", a Philippine folk tale published by Tahanan Books. It is about a girl named Pinang who can’t find anything that her mother asks her to look for. One day, in a moment of frustration, her mother wishes out loud for Pinang to have many, many eyes. In the morning, Pinang is nowhere to be found, but her mother notices a new plant growing in her garden. It eventually bears a fruit that seems to have a hundred eyes, a fruit that we now all know as the pineapple. 

When we learn to be not distracted and to focus on what we are seeing and hearing, we are assured that learning can take place. The good news is, we can easily train our children (and ourselves) to be attentive, to "watch and listen carefully," as We Choose Virtues succinctly puts it!

Make magic!

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