Crickets, Books, and Bach: Develop a Summer Listening Program

07/13/2020 | By More


Summer reading is as much a seasonal pastime as baseball and fireworks. Many parents put together a selection of books that are meaningful, educational, and engaging—books to nourish and stimulate young minds during these few freewheeling months.

Parents should consider assembling a summer listening list, too. When we think of literacy, we tend to think first of reading and writing. That’s because for centuries, printed text has been the dominant means of recording and sharing information. Yet for most children, listening is really the first entry point into language—the cornerstone of learning and of cognitive development. In an age when kids are regular users of personal multimedia technologies, the importance of learning to listen and listening to learn is as great as ever.

The importance of learning to listen

Listening is an engaging way to learn, a primary approach to developing or strengthening reading strategies, and, in some cases, a necessary means to access information and knowledge. Listening media, such as audio books and text-to-speech, can be especially helpful to children with learning disabilities, such as those with dyslexia and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) , who struggle with print-based learning, and central auditory processing disorder (CAPD), who may struggle to listen.

For such students well-chosen listening experiences can open up new vistas of learning, providing access to information and ideas previously ‘hidden’ in books and supporting the reading process itself. Such opportunities provide a powerful supplement or alternative to a reading program focused around printed text.

Research has shown that combining reading and listening through the use of audio books or text-to-speech programs improves the literacy skills of struggling readers, including those with learning disabilities. Reading comprehension, listening comprehension, phonological awareness and blending, and naming skills have shown to be improved with a combined reading-listening program. Listening while reading helps children learn the patterns of language, the obvious ‘code’ of letters and words on the page as well as less obvious codes, such as tone, nuance, and implied meaning. Brain imaging technologies show that when we listen, different parts of the brain are engaged than when we read—or even when we merely hear something. Listening can provide whole levels of information that are essential to determining the value and validity of a source. Teaching children to listen to tone of voice not only helps them develop reading skills but can help in the development of their social and conversational skills, too. (For more information, see Plato Revisited: Learning Through Listening in the Digital World by David Rose& Bridget Dalton, published by RFB&D.)

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Category: Dyslexia, News

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