Whole Body Listening

Listening is a skill that people of all ages could improve on.  In the lectionary text for this week – The Transfiguration story  – we hear the voice of God saying to the disciples present “This is my son, the Beloved, listen to him.”

Listening is hard!  Really listening to others takes a lot of work.  I often tell the wonderful youngsters I work with  – “we listen with both our ears and our eyes!”  This imagewhole-body-listening-poster might be helpful for your youngsters:

  • Eyes – looking at the person who is talking  
  • Head/Brain – Thinking carefully about what you are hearing 
  • Mouth – Sharing ideas and responses once the person is finished
  • Ears – Listening for the key words the person is sharing
  • Heart – Caring about what the other person is saying        
  • Body – facing the person 
  • Feet – Still and quiet on the floor 
  • Hands – still & quiet on your lap or by your sides

Handy chart or not – I can often get frustrated repeating these things over and over again.  However it’s worth it when I overhear one of my students ask another one – can you please listen to me with your whole self?!?  Or one of my older students patiently working to get the attention of some little ones who would rather play.  On the other side of listening, I try to remind them that “No one likes to be told what to do” and “No one likes to be yelled at”.  My friends and staff giggle at these constants from my mouth – however as we all get caught in the moment, these are excellent reminders to help all of us learn to respect one another and communicate just a little better.

Childhood 101 – has a great post on listening games here

For this weeks Family Activity I suggest adapting one for your family!

They call this “Sound Tennis”: It’s like the board game “Encore” – although doesn’t require you to sing!  Works well with teams – or each person can be their own team (depending on the size and makeup of your family or group).  Take turns giving out the categories (or have a parent/older child do it) – with younger children you could start with a letter (Things that start with S) or a sound cluster (Things that have a CH sound).  Older children can do more specific categories – cartoon characters, songs, desserts, vacation spots – etc.

Rules:  Once a category is given, individuals or teams have to name something in the category.  This bounces back and forth between people (or teams) until the ideas run out – OR – someone repeats something already said.  The person/team that ended with the last idea gets a point.  Play until 10 points, or the car ride ends, or when everyone is really loving it.  (Tip:  ending at game when it’s at a climax of fun and excitement gives you the chance to keep it in your pocket and bring it out again and again.  If you play too long, they’ll get tired of any game.)

Take a break in the game to talk about how important it is to listen in this game, and in life.  Ask some wondering questions:

I wonder what are some ways that you find help you listen to others?  I wonder what things can distract you from listening?   I wonder how you feel when others don’t listen to you?  I wonder if listening always means doing?

Read the text from this week – Mark 9:2-8.  Go back to the game.  Category: Things Jesus talked about, or Ways to listen to Jesus – and have fun with what comes!

Peace~ Deacon Erin

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