Homeschooling With Literature
By: Lorraine Curry
Even some elite colleges employ literature-based learning. Their tools are the Great Books; their principal technique, discussion. The Literature School is not only a successful school, it is the ideal multi-grade family school. Books can be read aloud together, with each child processing the information on his own level. The youngest child can narrate, the middle-aged child can write, the high schooler can report—after doing additional research about the topic, era or personality. Processing will create more lasting knowledge. I have found this easiest by requiring a written summary of the day's reading.
In narration, the child "tells back," in his own words, a chapter, a short book or a poem. This technique is a trademark of the + Charlotte Mason method and is explained fully in her books as well as in Karen Andreola's A Charlotte Mason Companion. Narration is a particularly good technique to use with a younger child who does not yet write fluently. It is also effective for building English and speech skills and securing information firmly in the child's knowledge repository.
History and Literature
Histories, philosophical works, handbooks and other non-fiction works are literature only in such cases as an appeal is made to the universal emotions common to mankind. That into which no feeling can enter is not literature. History is the record of what man has done, whereas literature is the record of man's thought and emotions. The literature of a period portrays that period in the lives of the characters. Because of this, history should be learned through literature not textbooks. Literature should have the greater emphasis because one only really knows a time by knowing the thoughts and words of the people who lived at that time.
When there is an emphasis on reading from a young age, language skills will be learned effortlessly. The child will write well and exhibit an expanding vocabulary in both speech and writing. You may also find, as we did, spelling class to be unnecessary.
Literature School Basics
- Select a number of well chosen books.
- Set a particular time to read each book.
- Let nothing interfere with your ` scheduling.
- Use discussion and research to create interest.
- Process, by writing or narrating.
Each child should have the opportunity to read aloud each day. During this time you can note and correct mispronounced words.
- Present questions that require thought. Some questions may not have one perfect answer. Some may not have an answer at all. Nevertheless, thought is stimulated and learning takes place.
- Copy challenging writing in order to practice English skills and increase comprehension.
- Do extensive research in order to understand deeper writing such as poems.
- Research authors, times and places.
- Report by presenting orally or compiling results of research in writing. The quantity and quality of written assignments should increase with older students.
- Solidify language-learning with a formal grammar course and a formal writing course such as the Wordsmith courses by Jane B. Cheaney.
See more easy tips for homeschooling and more literature tips in the Easy Homeschooling Companion