Hearing vs Listening
Hearing and listening are two very different things: hearing is passive, whilst listening is proactive. Being able to actively listen to sounds, music, and instructions will form the basis of your baby’s ability to concentrate. Concentration is a skill that can be learnt and developed. As a parent or carer you can have a big influence on your baby's or child’s concentration by encouraging active listening games such as listening to the birds sing in the garden, or by introducing quiet time where baby and parent sit and listen to music together.
How can you tell if your baby is listening?
For a young baby their reaction when listening is often to be calm and still, and possibly turn to their head towards the source of the music. As they get older their reaction will either remain the same (sitting still and concentrating) or perhaps they will want to move to the rhythm of the music or sing along. If your toddler is a fan of a particular nursery rhyme you may find them joining in. The more you practise this at home the more you will really help to reinforce this emerging skill.
Listening to music is not the only way you can help your baby to learn to listen and to improve their concentration skills. It’s very easy to ignore natural sounds within our environment. Despite our noisy world it is important to try to give babies the experience of hearing natural sounds like birdsong, the wind in the trees or even silence. Babies and young children need some quiet time with a parent away from the TV, radio and siblings. It's a really nice idea as a parent to occasionally just sit, or rock your baby or toddler and do nothing more than make eye contact and smile.
As your baby grows through infancy into toddler hood and on to being a young child their levels of concentration will increase. It is particularly important that parents give their young children plenty of opportunity to play quietly with their toys without disturbing their concentration. Practise makes perfect when gaining new skills or understanding of the world and this takes time, persistence, and concentration.