Heathdale flower 31st August 2023

A Change in Listening

At Heathdale, we are committed to enhancing our teaching methods for the benefit of our students. Learn more about the new method we are using when it comes to teaching listening skills, and how you can partner with us to reinforce this skill at home!

Heathdale flower

In the Primary school at Heathdale, we are continually refining our teaching methodologies to provide the best possible education for our students. Our Primary School is a place of innovation and growth, where we adapt to new ideas while holding onto our core values. In education, sometimes there are new ideas that are important to embrace as new information comes to light about how children learn.

Today, I would like to shed light on an important evolution in our approach to teaching listening skills – the transition from Whole Body Listening to Focused Listening.

In the past, we embraced the Whole Body Listening techniques with open arms, recognising its potential to engage young minds in active listening. This approach encouraged children to sit cross-legged and use their eyes, ears, hands, feet, and even their hearts to stay attentive and respectful during conversations. While Whole Body Listening certainly had its merits, we have found that the transition to Focused Listening gives children a greater understanding of how to act without the rigidity of Whole Body, especially in the Primary years.

Pros and Cons of Whole Body Listening:

Whole Body Listening undoubtedly promotes active participation and helps children understand the importance of nonverbal cues in communication. However, it also has its limitations. Maintaining the level of engagement that Whole Body Listening requires sometimes becomes a challenge, and there is a tendency for some students to become distracted by the physical aspects rather than focusing on the content being presented. Additionally, in a world where attention spans are constantly being tested, we recognise the need to adapt our teaching techniques to better prepare our students for the future.

Embracing Focused Listening:

Enter Focused Listening – a dynamic approach that encourages students to channel their attention solely into the content of the conversation. Rather than dispersing their focus across various bodily actions while sitting cross-legged, students are taught to engage their minds in a deep and meaningful way while choosing their preferred way of sitting from a list of suggestions. This shift allows them to connect with the speaker's words, grasp essential concepts, and cultivate critical thinking skills. Focused Listening is not only about understanding what is being said, but also about processing and internalising the information.

The Role of Faith and Education:

In this journey of educational evolution, we hold fast to the belief that we are all created in God's image, each of us uniquely and wonderfully made. We believe that our students possess incredible potential to learn and grow. Focused Listening aligns with this belief by encouraging students to harness their God-given abilities to engage with the world around them. As Psalm 46:10 reminds us, "Be still, and know that I am God." Focused Listening allows students to quiet the distractions around them and truly listen, fostering a sense of mindfulness and reverence.

Tailoring Techniques for Young Learners:

For our youngest learners, from Kinder to Year 2, Focused Listening proves to be particularly effective. These formative years are critical for building foundational skills that will serve them throughout their academic journey. Focused Listening helps them develop concentration, comprehension, and active participation in discussions. By honing these skills early on, we set a solid groundwork for future success.

As we embrace the evolution from Whole Body Listening to Focused Listening, we remain steadfast in our commitment to providing a holistic and Christ-centred education. We cherish the unique journey of each student and are excited to witness their growth as they engage more deeply with the world around them.

I have included two Focused Listening displays that are up in the classrooms and encourage parents to partner with us and reinforce the language used at home. If you would like further information, please speak to our K-2 Head of Learning Module, Cathy Ryan.