Teachers constantly exhort children to do ‘good listening’. And of course it is an excellent idea. But those who work specifically with children who have problems with attention, language delay, learning difficulties or a combination of all of these also encourage the provision of a ‘permanent trace’ to support learning. This may be a picture, a symbol, text or – combining all of these – an illustration plus symbol supported text!
In our household from my earliest memories comes a very morose ditty, always spoken with mock solemnity and guaranteed to have an effect:
Mrs. ———– gave a party (pause)
No one came.
And her brother gave another (pause)
Just the same.
We never saw this written down. I interpreted the party-giver as being Mrs. Hearty because the emotional tone merited a rather pejorative term to us. One sibling thinks of her as Mrs. Arty – which was actually far from uncomplimentary at home. Another has in mind Mrs. Harty – a name without emotional connotation.
This serves to point up the importance of learning topic vocabulary, suitably illustrated, before the introduction of the new lessons. We bring to words a bubble of emotion, meaning, context etc. and it is as well to set off down a new path with the Baedeker already perused!