Auditory System: “Kindergarten Guide” to Auditory Processing and How Your Child Uses it in the Classroom
This article provides helpful information about your child’s auditory system and how to help them better learn in the classroom.
Each grade level is unique and different for each child. As your child advances at each level, the learning process becomes more challenging and often tests their learning potential. Your child must also adapt to new teachers and new methods that are often introduced in the classroom. However, the one consistent measure of how your child usually learns on a daily basis is the way they take in information.
On any given day, your child uses either their visual system or their auditory system to retain the instructions and lesson plans your child’s teacher has prepared. Most teachers teach by either giving lectures or by showing pictures. Your child then has to use their auditory system (hearing) to take in what the teacher is saying or they have to use their visual system (vision) to remember the details surrounding the pictures or graphs their teacher has shown them.
Because most teachers teach by giving verbal instructions or lectures, the child’s auditory system is used most of the time in the classroom and must be fully developed and sharp to retain important details. Many students lean toward one learning method or the other depending on where their strengths lie. However, the teacher isn’t always able to adapt their lesson plans to each child, so the child may fall behind or won’t retain or retrieve information as well if their auditory system is weak or underdeveloped.
This can happen at any moment of classroom learning. They may not remember the answers to test questions, they may forget letters or words on the page, they can’t follow directions or complete simple tasks, or they may become very unorganized, all because they can’t remember the information the teacher taught.
The Kindergarten “Show and Tell” Method
The way your child takes in information is the same for both their visual system and auditory system. Information is stored and retrieved by a series of steps that most children do automatically throughout the day without even thinking about it. Sometimes the process seems complicated and can be difficult for parents and teachers to understand. That is why we developed the “Kindergarten Guide” to auditory processing to help parents and teachers better understand the workings of their child’s auditory system and how they store information they receive in the classroom. Let’s follow the process by using the “Show and Tell” method to simplify each step.
Important: Before explaining the steps below, we assume the child is already listening and is paying attention. Children with attention and focus issues may need intervention in these areas before we can strengthen their auditory system for higher learning.
Step 1: Processing – What is Show and Tell?
Your child’s teacher begins class by telling the students, “tomorrow is Show and Tell.” If your child is already paying attention, typically their ears perk up when they hear the words “Show and Tell.” Why are they suddenly listening to the teacher when she says these words? It’s because the child is using their auditory system (ears/hearing) to process the meaning of Show and Tell. They understand and know Show and Tell means they get to bring a fun item from home to show the entire class. The teacher then explains to all of the students what items are appropriate for Show and Tell. Your child must also process what items are ok to bring to show their classmates.
Step 2: Store Information – What items can I bring for Show and Tell?
If your child has processed what items they can bring for Show and Tell and they remember Show and Tell is tomorrow, then their auditory system has successfully stored that information in their brain for when they go home later that day. It’s important to remember our ears are always “on,” but we don’t always store everything we hear. Your child is the same way and often chooses what information is important enough to keep in their memory for later.
Step 3: Retains Information – Do I want to bring something for Show and Tell?
If your child wants to bring an item for Show and Tell, it’s not only important for their auditory system to store that information, but to retain it as well. How many times do we store information, but a few hours later we forget about it? If we aren’t retaining the information we have stored in either our short-term or long-term memory, the information is gone and we no longer remember the information that was given. In this case, your child must retain the details of Show and Tell and remember it for later when they get home.
Step 4: Retrieve Information – What do I need to remind Mom or Dad about when I get home?
If your child is excited enough about Show and Tell, when they get home, they immediately retrieve the information they have retained in their auditory system about Show and Tell. Your child may come to you and say, “Mom tomorrow is Show and Tell and I want to bring my stuffed bear.” Your child must retrieve that Show and Tell is “tomorrow” and they must retrieve a list of items the teacher said it was ok to bring. In this case, your child already knows the item they want to bring and that their stuffed bear is on the list of items that is ok to show.
Step 5: Utilizing Information – Where is my stuffed bear for Show and Tell?
Now that your child has told you Show and Tell is tomorrow and they want to bring their stuffed bear, they must utilize the information or take action. If your child has completed all the steps above and their auditory system is working properly, they will then go to their bedroom, grab their stuffed bear and will immediately put it next their backpack so they don’t forget it for Show and Tell.
Recognizing a Breakdown in Auditory Processing
Most children complete all of these steps on their own without even giving it a second thought, especially when it comes to test-taking. However, if you notice there is a breakdown in any one of these steps, your child could have an underdeveloped auditory system, which can be frustrating for both parents and children.
Many times parents tell us when they ask their child what happened at school that day, the child typically only tells them one or two things and when the parent asks their child if they have homework, they often say “no.” The parent then gets several calls from the teacher about missing assignments and failing test grades.
Where does the breakdown happen?
Breakdowns in auditory learning can happen at the very beginning of the information process. Maybe your child was distracted and didn’t hear the instructions of the assignment or maybe they didn’t hear that the test for math is next week. If they didn’t first process the information the teacher gave them, there is little hope of them retaining and retrieving the information later when they get home.
Because parents don’t always know exactly where the breakdown first occurs, they aren’t always able to work on improving each step of the process. Instead, we must work on improving the auditory system as a whole to help weak areas of the system become stronger.
How do we fix the auditory system?
One thing to remember about auditory issues is they cannot be improved through tutoring like math, reading and spelling. If your child’s auditory system is weak, you can help them learn more through their visual system (pictures and graphs) or ask the teacher to make special accommodations in the classroom, but those weak areas will remain weak until we strengthen those underdeveloped areas.
In our experience, one of the best ways to improve your child’s auditory system is through movement and music. Acoustically modified music with air-conduction headphones directly targets areas of the auditory system and opens it up for retaining and retrieving information learned in the classroom. Music therapy is often administered by a professional, but can be done at home under the supervision of a therapist or expert. To learn more about how music therapy can help your child retain information, click here.
Auditory Processing Guide
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Integrated Learning Strategies is a Utah-based center dedicated to helping mainstream children and children with learning disabilities achieve academic success. Our services provide kids with non-traditional tutoring programs within the Davis County, Kaysville, Layton, Syracuse, Farmington, and Centerville areas. Areas to find Integrated Learning Strategies include: Reading tutors in Kaysville, Math tutors in Kaysville, Common Core Tutors in Kaysville, Tutors in Utah, Utah Tutoring Programs
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