Whole Body Listening Larry at School, 2nd. Edition
How often do you find yourself using phrases with children such as, “pay attention” or “listen carefully”? When we make these requests, we may not realize that we’re giving kids an unspoken expectation that we want them to stop whatever they are doing and show us they are listening with their whole body (look at us, keep still, think about what we said, etc.). However, do we ever really teach them this expectation? And then what happens when the child doesn’t show those behaviors? We feel frustrated and assume they aren’t listening, don’t want to comply, etc.
In this charming and colorfully illustrated storybook, authors Sautter and Wilson explore and expand upon the original whole body listening concept created by Susanne Poulette Truesdale (1990). While our WBL Larry books are designed to help all children understand that we listen with more than our ears, these books are also helpful for students with social learning challenges as we explicitly describe implicit expectations about what it means to “listen”.
The rhyming poem describes two siblings, Leah and Luka, as they struggle to focus their brains and bodies during different situations throughout their school day. Larry, a classmate, helps explain how they need to use more than their ears to listen when they are around others. This awareness not only helps them access the information being taught in school, but helps them learn how to work, play, and converse as part of a group. Preschool through 3rd grade students love the antics of our characters as they teach this important concept in a very fun manner!
What is Whole Body Listening?
Whole Body Listening is more than just “hearing” with the ears. It includes:
- listening with the eyes (looking toward the speaker)
- listening with the ears (both ears ready to hear)
- listening with the mouth (quiet and waiting for your turn to talk)
- listening with the hands (quiet and kept to yourself)
- listening with the feet (quiet and still)
- listening with the body (facing toward speaker)
- listening with the brain (thinking about what is being said)
- listening with the heart (considering the speaker and others listening)
How to use This Book
Take the time to look at all the photos, and have your child think about what it means to listen with each body part. Talk about how the characters in this book feel when they are not listening or being listened to. Explore how your child feels when someone IS or IS NOT listening with their whole body to them. Finally, discuss the impression that your child may make on the speaker when your child is not using whole body listening.
What’s New in the Second Edition?
These new editions are still presented as the rhyming stories you know and love, however we’ve made some changes based on feedback from the community combined with our observations that the concept was being taught differently than we intended.
Social Thinking was concerned that some in the community of autism felt that we were mandating that everyone should be able to use their whole body to listen well in spite of their sensory and self-regulation challenges. Susanne P. Truesdale, the creator of the whole body listening concept, stated it perfectly– “this concept is a tool, not a rule.” There is no one way to teach WBL and there is no one way for children to demonstrate their listening. Some of the skills used in the WBL such as thinking with your eyes, keeping one’s body still, or remaining quiet are extremely difficult and may cause stress or simply not be possible for some individuals.
In teaching the concept, flexibility is an important factor. Each person is different and should be assessed for individual needs and support, a point we spotlight in these new editions. We hope this will help encourage discussion and that adult stakeholders will better understand ways to adapt the teaching of WBL. The article “Taking a Deeper Look at Whole Body Listening” (Sautter, 2016) shares more information on how to modify and accommodate for each body part involved and the different challenges our children face.
The WBL concept was originally intended to be taught in a flexible way, taking into account the learning styles, strengths, and weaknesses of the children involved. Therefore, we were surprised to see that people were approaching WBL by teaching children to hold their body in one rigid position. To emphasize that WBL is “a tool not a rule”, in the new editions we’ve extended the introduction in each book to draw attention to the flexible manner in which the concept can–and should–be taught. We also re-wrote and re-illustrated passages in the book to better describe and demonstrate how people can utilize this tool without making WBL a rigid rule. For instance: some of the illustrations were modified so the characters appear more relaxed when engaged in WBL.
Do I Need to Buy the Second Edition if I Already Have the First?
Given the confusion related to teaching WBL and the significant changes Social Thinking made to these two books to help clarify what this concept means and how it should be taught, they feel strongly that adult stakeholders and their students will benefit from the new teachings and illustrations embedded in the new editions.
Suitable for ages 4 – 9
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