grade provides students with an exciting invitation . . . an invitation to truly
dedicate themselves to the language learning that defines us all: listening and
speaking, reading and writing. Young students are entering a world of literacy
and thinking. A focus has come full circle and we now ask our children to
concentrate on listening, an aspect of language arts with which children seem to
have the most experience. Good listening, though, is difficult for many
writing, and speaking can be measured. In a sense, there is a product involved.
pages did you read? How many new words did you record as you read?
write a topic sentence? How many details to you have to support your topic
participate in class discussions? Do you speak loudly and clearly? Can you
support your verbal answers with reasons?
Listening provides a different challenge. Often,
listening is the component through which good reading, writing, and speaking
becomes possible. Good and careful listening helps our children become better
readers, writers, speakers, and thinkers.
Children can be challenged to sharpen their listening skills at home as
well as at school. Conversation with your child may be the easiest way to
practice listening, with a natural “give and take” required for good
conversation. Engage your child by asking questions that require more than a
single word answer. Start the conversation with, “What was the most
interesting thing you learned?” or “What part of your day was the most
fun?” Continue the conversation by asking for reasons and explanations.
course, keep reading to read to your child! He or she may be able to read his or
own stories, but the joy of a shared story between adult and child can provide a
chance for your child to practice listening and quality conversation. Taking a
break from reading gives your child time to think about an intriguing plot or
character, and perhaps reflect on how he or she may connect to an event or
feeling in a story.
in reading and writing, speaking and listening can help children to become
powerful thinkers. Students who are no more than seven or eight years old can
begin to think about their own thinking, and as Dr. Seuss said, “Oh, the
thinks you can think of . . .”
second graders are learning about their own responsibilities as readers,
writers, speakers, and listeners just as they have developed early literacy
skills in kindergarten and first grade. The timing is perfect: our second grade
children, new to learning, will employ language strategies and demonstrate the
qualities of interested, responsible, and life-long learners.
“The thinks you can think of,” said Dr. Seuss, “if only you try.”
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