Classroom Strategies for Auditory Processing

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When you hear something, information travels to your brain for interpretation and organization. What you do with this information is called auditory processing. In a classroom, it is important for students to be able to process the information they hear. This can be difficult because they must process a lot of information in an environment that’s not always free from distractions. This prevents them from hearing and focusing well. Teachers can address these issues with well-implemented classroom strategies.

1 Slow Down

It is important not to rush when you are speaking to your students. Speak clearly and slowly, and allow students time to process information. Pause occasionally and survey the classroom to make sure all students are listening. Give examples of concepts you are teaching and allow time for students to ask questions and supply feedback. Make a “slow-down sign” for each student. Tell them to hold up their signs if you are going too fast. This alerts you to those students who need more time to process and it also prevents you from distracting them by calling out.

2 Attention-Getting Strategies

When students are focused, they are more apt to interpret auditory input correctly. Implement attention-getting strategies. Try to eliminate any background noises by closing your classroom door. Use visual aids to help students focus. Cue students to listen with words such as “are you listening?” and “pay attention now.” Occasionally, say the students’ names aloud as you are teaching. For instance, “Billy, isn’t this interesting?” or “Sue, this is something you can understand.” Stick as closely as you can to a daily routine so students won’t have to process unexpected surprises as well as new information.

3 Transitions and Connections

Student attention is often lost in transition when the subject matter changes. Before changing subjects, summarize the information in the lesson. This gives students another chance to process information they have heard. Have students finish tasks associated with the subject you’re teaching by asking them to put away their books away and by clearing their desks. Take a short break before you introduce a new subject. When you do introduce a new subject, provide a concept students can connect to. For instance, if you are beginning a lesson on fractions, you might say, “When you have pizza for dinner, how do you divide up the pieces?”

4 Processing Practice

Use activities that target auditory processing. For instance, play recorded sounds, such as chirping birds and whistling tea kettles, and ask students to identify them. Include activities with visual and tactile dimensions to provide more brain connections for the students. This beanbag toss game is a good example. With masking tape, “tape off ” several large shapes on the floor and distribute various bean bags to students. Direct the students to take specific actions with the bean bags. Start with one direction at time such as “toss a bean bag into the triangle.” When students have mastered this, continue with directions that involve multiple levels of processing: “Toss a red bean bag into the circle,” and then “Toss a red bean bag into the circle and a yellow beanbag into the square.”

Debbie McCarson is a former English teacher and school business administrator. Her articles have appeared in "School Librarians’ Journal" and "The Encyclopedia of New Jersey." A South Jersey native, she is a regular contributor to "South Jersey MOM" magazine.