Thursday, September 08, 2011

Auditory learning

As I look back over last year, and the long process of finding what worked for Jonathan's education, one thing stands out as a shining, glorious success. We discovered that Jonathan is an auditory learner, and that he loves audio books. We are lucky to have access to the huge Los Angeles County library system, which includes free requests from any library in the system. That has been a tremendous opportunity to expand Jonathan's education, far further and in far different ways that I had been expecting.

We started out with stories of all kinds, read by Jim Weiss. He's a fabulous reader, giving interesting (and consistent!) voices to each character in the story. There are so many options - Arabian Nights, Greek Myths, Animal Tales, Shakespeare, the list goes on and on.

Jim Weiss is also the reader for Susan Wise Bauer's The Story of the World. He doesn't do as many neat voices, but it is easy to listen to, and most importantly Jonathan loves it. We made it a habit to listen in the car last year, as we drove around town on errands, or to CHEP classes, or to church. Even this fall, he still requests to listen to it in the car on the way to and from school.

Speaking of the car - some of our long car trips (to visit family) have been made far more bearable by audio books. A favorite memory for me is the time we listened to the entirety of the Narnia Chronicles on the way to and from my parents' house!

At home, Jonathan listens to stories during his daily quiet time and as he's falling asleep at night. Some of his favorites from the last year include Little Britches, Beatrix Potter stories, Cheaper by the Dozen, and The Wind in the Willows. Currently he's listening to the original Winnie the Pooh, read by the truly brilliant Peter Dennis.

These stories are jewels just as they are, never mind the "learning" that comes with them. And yet there is learning, and a lot of it! Jonathan's vocabulary has expanded at an incredible rate this past year. And it isn't just the vocabulary itself, but the way in which he's learning to use it. He often surprises us with an unexpected turn of phrase that is exactly right for the occasion, and sounds like something that Pooh Bear would have said. :) (Of course, once I caught him saying something entirely NOT appropriate for the occasion, and we had quite the conversation when he protested "but the dad in Cheaper by the Dozen says it!")

Then there is philosophy in Wind in the Willows, and theology in Narnia, and what it means to grow into manhood in Little Britches. Humor in Cheaper by the Dozen and Beatrix Potter, and...everything? in Winnie the Pooh.

All children love stories, but Jonathan seems to be wired with a special ability to absorb (and then recite!) them. I'm grateful for the writers who gave us stories with such depth, and goodness, and humor and joy. And I'm grateful for the readers and publishers who gave them to us in audio form. Because while I can't read to him for 3-4 hours every day...the cd player can!

{I also want to mention a few lovely audio books for the younger crowd. Bedtime for Frances is perfectly sweet and has really captured our little boys' interest. And Arnold Lobel reads his own Frog and Toad stories with delightful voices and humor!}


Bethany said...

I am with you on the love for audio books! Thanks for all these great recommendations--I'm looking for a few good ones for Clara's birthday.

Aicats said...

Are you at all familiar with It's a cite where volunteers read aloud books in the public domain and the recordings are available to the public for free. It can, of course, be hit and miss with the ability of the reader, but there's a lot of good stuff on there! I'm also very auditory and librivox has definitely expanded my continuing education. :) Anyway, thought you might like to check it out...


Alisha said...

Have you seen this?

Sometimes, I just can't wait until Buddy is in Kindergarten. Other times, I'm ready to wait. =)