Teaching a child how to read and write doesn’t just open them to a world of books and papers, but to communicating with others and navigating the world they live in. Using these communication and navigation intersections allows you to continue teaching language arts as a life skill even when the books are put away. Here is an outstanding example of how to prompt your student to use language arts as a life skill.
Ten-year-old Sam and his dad are off to Pearson International Airport to pick up his cousin for a camping trip. They were checking the car to see that they had everything.
Dad started the conversation by saying, “Here’s the checklist. You read it and I will make sure that each thing is in the car.”
Sam read, “Tent”. Dad replied, “Got it. Next?”
“Check. 3 sleeping bags.”
Sam read each item on the list as his dad checked the supplies.
“While I drive, be my navigator. Watch for signs with an airplane on them and then read the name of the road that we use to exit”, Sam’s dad said. “It will take us about 45 minutes to get to Pearson. Meanwhile, use my phone to text Erin and see if she is through Customs and at her boarding gate. Also get her Flight number. Thanks.”
Sam sent Erin a text and waited for a reply. A few moments later, the cell phone beeped. He read the message. “She is just on her way to her gate. Everything is good.”
Sam watched carefully for the exit and pointed when he saw a picture of an airplane on the overhead highway sign. “There’s our exit, 3 kilometers ahead. We follow Highway 404 West.”
“Well done. You’re a pretty good navigator for a 10 year old.” His dad said, “Now we have to find the terminal where Jet Blue lands. Watch the signs on your side. The airlines are in alphabetical order, so look for J and read me the number of the terminal.”
“There it is –Jet Blue. It is Terminal 3.” Sam said excitedly. He was anxious to see his cousin.
“Text her and tell her to wait on the sidewalk outside of the Jet Blue Arrival area.” A moment later the cell phone beeped again. “She’s already there waiting for us.”
“That’s great”, his dad said, “Now we won’t have to park the car to go and find her. Is there any room for her in one of the back seats? We may have to rearrange some of the gear.”
“There’s lots of room, Dad, Erin is not as big as me.”
Once out of the airport, Erin and Sam read the brochures about the lake they were going to. They found out about the kinds of fish they might catch. “Wow, look at this one”, Erin pointed to a large Northern pike. I’m not sure I want to catch one of those.” They read about boat rentals, fresh bait, campfire rules and emergency services. An entire hour passed before they had read and discussed what they wanted to catch with what bait.
After 3 nights in a tent, several daily swims and campfire dinners of fresh fish, the three campers were ready to return.
“So what lesson did you learn from all this?” Sam’s dad asked. Erin piped up, “You don’t stop reading just because you closed the book.” Sam laughed.