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Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust

Attention & listening – Parents

The ability to focus attention on something or someone is important for all types of learning, particularly speech and language development. A child develops their attention and listening skills by listening to everyday sounds around them – the telephone, washing machine, animal noises etc. They will also need to focus their listening on spoken language, including single words and sentences, before they can learn to speak for themselves and communicate effectively with others.

Babies and young children develop attention and listening skills through frequent opportunities to interact and play with others around them in quiet environments.

Good attention is the ability to focus on something specific for a certain length of time. As children progress through education, it becomes increasingly important for them to focus their own attention for sustained periods of time. To learn at school, children must be able to listen and attend to what is happening around them in order to understand it, despite varying levels of distraction.


Last updated: 17 April, 2018

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