Ever been listening to the radio for the weather forecast and missed it because you were washing up?
That's because we as adults, have learned to filter out background noise. Our children have sometimes learned to block out all of the sounds before they know which are the important ones.
Listen, don't just hear
To help our children to listen to the sounds around them and not just hear them, we need to let them know they are important and point out that they have meaning.
When you're walking down the road, or in the park, or just pottering at home getting all the jobs done (ha! Yea right!) you can listen to all the noises and point them out to your little one. Some are loud - Hoover, shower, lawnmower, tractor, aeroplane, lorry etc. some are quiet - birds cheeping, boiling kettle, tap dripping, clock ticking, bicycle, etc.
Have fun with listening
By doing that and not constantly commenting on everything you can hear, helps littlies focus on those important noises and automatically makes it a game.
What to expect
Recently, I've suggested this type of activity to a few families whose children aren't speaking. After focusing on this pre-speech activity for 6-8 weeks, the children are now much more vocal in nursery, they are using a wider range of sounds at home, and are attaching meaning to those sounds (i.e. pointing and making a noise). The children are involving the adults much more, and have developed shared attention - they want to involve others in their world and activities. Once children are tuning in and have a level of shared attention, they may be ready to start to listen to sounds for speech...