Communicator: a person who is able to convey or exchange information, news, or ideas, especially one who is eloquent or skilled.
Thanks to the Internet, we live in a time where everyone can express their thoughts and feelings in an instant. Yet it seems people struggle to actually communicate.
Communication requires skills that go beyond simply sharing opinions. Unfortunately, many in our world tend to talk at other people instead of to or with them.
A good communicator is one who:
takes in information and reflects on it in order to understand
is able to organize thoughts and express them clearly
listens to opposing arguments with the intent of understanding differing viewpoints
These skills don’t come naturally for all of us. Thus children need to be taught how to be skillful and thoughtful communicators.
Teaching your students to communicate well is a lofty goal—one that goes beyond simply making sure they can read and write. How can you do it? One answer is to teach language arts the BookShark way.
Teach Language Arts Skills Naturally
Natural learning methods take advantage of the way children have been learning since the day they were born.
Many language arts curriculums teach language skills in a disjointed way, as a collection of separate subjects. Because of this approach, students often struggle to apply what they’ve learned about grammar or literary elements or even spelling in their actual writing and speaking.
Read Great Books
Reading aloud to students gives them the opportunity to hear books beyond their reading levels. This habit has several benefits:
Develops vocabulary. In order to master new words and incorporate them into both their spoken and written idiolect, students need to encounter them multiple times. It also helps to hear, see, and write them.
Exposes students to good writing. Students hear well constructed sentences, great descriptions, and literary language. No, they may not be consciously thinking about language as they listen to a story. But they nevertheless absorb the traits of good writing in much the same way they learned to speak —by being immersed in language.
Cultivates listening skills. Consistently reading to students develops their ability to listen. Don’t worry if your little one is rolling around on the floor while you're reading! You’ll be amazed at how much they are retaining.
Encourages great conversations. Discussion questions, like the ones provided in BookShark’s Instructor’s Guides, are a great starting point. Reading books together gives parents and students a way to interact with ideas, character issues, and both fun and difficult topics.
The BookShark language arts program includes a variety of read alouds from historical fiction to biographies to nonfiction.
Learn to Write with Copywork, Dictation, and Narration
Let your children learn to write from those who do it best: authors. Copywork, dictation, and narration are the foundation for learning language arts the natural way.
With copywork, students copy from the books they read. This allows them to learn writing skills within the context of real writing—instead of doing drills in a grammar textbook or studying a separate, unrelated list of spelling words.
After students are comfortable with copywork, they are ready for the next step. Instead of copying text from books, they write it as someone dictates the sentences and passages to them. This requires higher level thinking skills as they choose what punctuations to use, remember how to spell words, and apply the rules of grammar like capitalization.
Through copywork and dictation, children learn grammar, sentence structure, correct usage, mechanics, and spelling.
When students narrate, they retell something you’ve read to them in their own words. In order to do this they have to use several skills:
Listening carefully. This is pretty obvious, but students can’t retell something if they aren’t listening. If a child struggles with narration, consider building their listening muscles and ask them to narrate a smaller portion you read. Or tell them specifically what to listen for before you read.
Organizing their thoughts. Have you ever heard someone speaking who seemed to wander all over the place? Or maybe they were constantly inserting ums? Often people do these things because the information in their brain is a bit jumbled. When students practice narrating, they need to organize their ideas so they can convey the information in their own words.
Understanding what is being said. It’s impossible to put into your own words something you don’t understand. How do we understand what is being read? We listen carefully and ask questions when needed. When students know they will narrate what they are hearing, they know they’ll need to do the same: listen carefully and ask questions.
The ability to narrate means students know how to summarize and paraphrase. These skills are essential, especially when they begin writing essays.
Have Students Write About What They Know
When kids struggle to write, it’s often because they don’t have anything to draw from. It’s like going to a well without a bucket. If you want your children to be able to write, then you have to fill their buckets.
BookShark’s writing activities relate to the topics students are encountering in their Readers and Read-Alouds. Their buckets are filled with facts, ideas, imagery, and stories.
Then, with the skills they are learning through copywork, dictation, and narration, they’ll be able to organize and express this knowledge in writing form—sharing what they've learned with others.
Teach Language Arts Naturally to Help Your Kids Become Better Communicators
Students who learn language arts naturally know how to communicate well. Why? They’ve learned from some of the best communicators there are—actual writers. These students:
Apply the language arts skills they’ve learned to their writing and speaking.
Seek to understand
Organize their thoughts before speaking
Write about the things they know
BookShark language arts teaches in a way that will help you reach the real goal of teaching children how to read, write, and speak well. It will help your kids learn to be better communicators. And we could all use more of those in this world.