My son who is in fourth grade does not listen in class. What can be done to help him listen better? His grades are beginning to suffer. -- Worried


First, you need to make sure that not listening in class is not actually due to a hearing problem. Your son definitely needs to learn to listen in class if this truly is a listening problem. It is estimated that from 50 percent to 75 percent of students' time in the classroom is spent listening. Students listen to the teacher, other students and audio media presentations. Much of what they learn is through listening. Just think of the advantage this offers children who are good listeners.

Not listening in class is also a behavioral problem. Have a meeting with his teacher and get the teacher's input on what changes need to be made. Find out if your son is required to take notes during class discussion. Taking notes could help him be more engaged in what is being said. Where is your son sitting currently in class? Ask the teacher to move him to the front to see if that increases his interest in what is being said. It also will eliminate many distractions that may be preventing him from listening. Another technique that works is to let him know that the teacher will ask him a question at the beginning of a discussion. As your son begins to listen more attentively, the teacher can ask him a question later on in the discussion.

It also will help if you practice good listening skills at home. Start by being interested in what your child is saying. Children definitely know if they have your full attention. Maintaining eye contact and ignoring distractions show that you are really paying attention. Another suggestion is to play listening games. And when you give your son directions, have him repeat the directions, and when reading a story to him, stop and ask him to tell you what just happened.