How to Be Your Child's LSL Superhero

By Hearing First Team April 25, 2017

LSL Day by Day | LSL strategies, daily routines, serve and return

Today is National Superhero Day! Children can have all kinds of superheroes from their favorite sports player, celebrity or singer to a fictional superhero character. But the real superhero in their life is YOU as you live Listening and Spoken Language (LSL) every day.


When you chose the LSL path for your child, you knew the ultimate goal for your child was to develop listening and spoken language skills just like their hearing friends. What you might not know is you can be the hero of your child’s life and help them learn how to listen and talk by using your ‘LSL superhero’ powers. To build these superpowers and achieve this goal, there are specialized LSL strategies and techniques that you can learn, which place an emphasis on learning spoken language through listening. These strategies and techniques take full advantage of an open doorway to the brain, which is prewired to learn spoken language.

Here’s a breakdown of the superhero powers you can use today to help your child have a successful future:

Direct the Child to Listen
Say “Listen!” to your child whenever you hear a sound or a person talking, or before you start talking to them. This provides the child with an opportunity to detect and pay attention to the sounds and speech around them.

Point Out Sound and Name it
When you direct your child to listen, point out the sound, name it, and talk about it, they learn that sound and speech are important. This helps your child begin to understand the meaning of sound and spoken language.

Looking for more information? Download our Point Out Sound handout

Use Audition First
Let your child hear a sound before you show it to them. This provides ear contact before eye contact, which is critical to help grow your baby’s brain for auditory skills. So talk about an object before you show it to them, start a song or fingerplay before beginning the motions, or talk about the page in a book before you turn the page.

Needing more insight? Download our Hear It Then Show It handout

Describe Actions and Thoughts
Much like a sports announcer, describing the play-by-play action of what your baby experiences every day will help them grow their listening and language skills. This self-talk provides your baby with the opportunity to hear lots of words so they can reach hearing 40 million words by age 4. As your child gets older, continuing to talk out loud about your thoughts helps them learn that others may have thoughts and feelings different from their own.

Ready to take your announcer skills to the next level? Download our Tell Me About It handout

Keep the Serve and Return Going
Practice by expecting a response from your baby. Use pausing, waiting, and leaning in with an expectant look to encourage a response from your baby. This teaches them the power of turn-taking in conversations. For older children, use another person to model the answer to a question or provide the opportunity for the child to fill in a missing word.

Practice by using our Serve and Return checklist

Make it Easier to Listen
Control the listening environment and place emphasis on sounds and words. As a new listener, your baby needs a quieter environment with background noises at a minimum.

Looking for ways to create an optimal listening environment? We have a handout for that!

Expect an Answer
Help your child learn to answer questions by changing your questions from open-set questions, such as “How many crackers do you want?”, to a closed-set question that has a limited choice of answers, like “How many crackers do you want: one or two?” Providing choices helps a child with limited vocabulary and spoken language skills gain confidence.

Create an Auditory ‘Sandwich’
An auditory sandwich is made in three simple steps:

Step 1 - Listen: Use the strategy of Audition First to talk to your child about an object or action. If they need more information to understand, then move to the next step.

Step 2 - Add More: Provide another strategy to give your baby more information. This could be pointing toward the object to help them understand the phrase; or the acoustic highlighting strategy to emphasize a specific sound or word.

Step 3 - Listen: Without any pointing or gesturing, put what you said back into listening by saying the same phrase or word as you would normally say it.

Expand and Extend Your Child’s Utterances
Add your words to their comments to expand and model more complex language or extend the comment by talking about past or future experiences. As your child learns more words, keep raising the bar by using new words that mean the same thing.

Need examples? If your baby says, “Ball,” you could expand their utterance by saying, “Yes, you have a big ball. Roll the ball.” Looking for something more challenging? Once your baby is saying, “Bye-bye,” begin to extend their vocabulary and understanding by adding new words and phrases that mean the same thing, such as “See you later,” or “So long!”

Ask “What Did You Hear?”
Encourage your child to listen the first time something is said or asked of them. Children with hearing loss can often develop a habit of asking “Huh?” or “What?” Asking “What did you hear?” can break this habit, teach them to listen the first time, and build their confidence in their listening skills.

To put it into context, if you ask “Where do you want to go for lunch?” and your child replies “Huh?”, follow up by asking “What did you hear?” If your child responds “Lunch?”, say “Good for you. Where do you want to go for lunch?”

Looking for something to help you remember all the great superpowers that will help your child succeed? Superheroes need tools and resources too you know! Download our LSL Strategies and Techniques handout for a breakdown of each of these super powers. For LSL learning reminders, post it on the refrigerator, in your car or on your mirror, or wherever your super self goes on a daily basis so you can power potential for your little one!

LSL Day by Day | LSL strategies, daily routines, serve and return

About the Author

Hearing First Team At Hearing First, we want all children to benefit from the availability of newborn hearing screening, the advances in technology, and the early learning services in their communities. We want all children to have the opportunity to take advantage of access to sound – a critical building block for future success.