This evening my husband and I went out for dinner with friends. When I ordered a fajita salad the waiter said, “It’s a little spicy.” I like a “little” spice but his use of the word sounded like a warning. I started to ask for clarification but in the end decided to be adventurous and placed my order. The dish was delicious but from my point of view, it was very spicy.
I was able to pick up on the subtleties of language and was forewarned but many of my students would have had a difficult time weeding through the words to understand the waiter’s intent. That first bite of fajita salad would have been surprising to them!
Many words and phrases have a variety of meanings and children sometimes struggle to interpret what is actually being said. Imagine the picture that might pop into a child’s mind when he hears a parent talking about a decision to be made and then says, “I’m on the fence.” In school it is all the more important that children comprehend the words they read and hear if they are to succeed academically.
A wonderful way to teach the meaning of figurative language is by reading books with your child, books such as the Amelia Bedelia stories. They are plentiful and I’m certain you can find a few at your local library. You and your child will laugh at the misadventures of this very literal-minded housekeeper who, when asked to, “dust the house”, sprinkles dust all around the living-room and when baking a sponge cake – well, I bet you can imagine the first ingredient.
Speaking of ingredients, I could use a little ice water to cool my mouth after the little spice from my fajita!