May 3, 2018
Exploring Home Education Methods: Literature-Based
By Dinah Whitton
*Names have been changed upon request
There’s nothing quite like a great book! Home educators from all walks of life will likely agree that books are an essential component to any homeschool. So let’s explore another home education method that embraces literature in all aspects of learning.
The literature-based approach specifically incorporates high quality books, otherwise known as “great books”. Traditional textbooks are replaced with classic books where possible. These can include both fiction and non-fiction written by world renowned and respected authors. Children’s books, chapter books and even ancient texts are meant to enrich the learning process by exposing children to rich literature. For young children parents intentionally read classical tales to build strong vocabulary. Some families encourage preschool children to draw or quietly play while listening to a classic story to promote auditory learning. Reading above the child’s grade level can also expand their knowledge and boost their creativity. Comprehension and critical thinking skills are also developed in the later years through student narration and written summaries. Older students can also benefit from engaging into further research based on what they’ve read.
Students who are regularly exposed to rich literature tend to have exceptional writing and reading skills. It seems like a natural progression for literature students to have strong writing skills considering the depth of reading. However, for struggling learners reading aloud may be an essential component to their learning objectives. Since this approach can be incorporated into various homeschool methods, parents have the opportunity to use alternatives. While subjects like language arts, history and geography can likely be covered through great literature, a textbook might be useful for math. There are many curriculum providers that allow parents to purchase by subject matter rather than full sets. So, math and science can be a part of your student’s education without interrupting the flow of a literature-based approach.
It has been said that a library card is a powerful tool in the hands of a homeschooler. Since classic literature is typically available at local libraries, this method could also prove to be cost effective.
What Homeschool Families Are Saying
As always, it’s great to hear from families you are actively working through a particular method. *Renee is a mother of 8 children began homeschooling her oldest child 10 years ago. As a school teacher she loved seeing student’s experience that “aha” moment and she didn’t want to miss that with her own children. She also wanted to instill faith and values into her children, so homeschooling was ideal for her family.
There’s no doubt that homeschooling 8 children under 16 years old is no easy feat! But, the literature based option Renee chose also includes a correspondence option that works for their family dynamic. Prior to this, Renee worked through a parent-led unit study with her children. With multiple children of varying ages (15, 13, 12, 11, 9, 7, 5, and 3 years old), this approach was just what they needed. It was also helpful when her youngest child’s health challenges resulted in a prolonged hospital stay. Her high school student remained engaged in rich literature through correspondence when Renee had to be away from home.
Ultimately Renee appreciates the benefits of going through great books, “It gives an opportunity to be exposed to books and ideas that the child wouldn’t necessarily be choosing on their own.” Rene said. Their family also enjoys the independence in learning that comes from reading regularly. Although Renee believes reading books is wonderful, she does admit there are some challenges. In addition to the obvious setbacks for struggling readers, lack of knowledge of the content can be problematic, “A second challenge is not being able to read everything that the child does in order to give help as needed” Renee said. She recommends reading aloud to help younger children and reluctant readers.
Of course it’s always great to hear from homeschool students to truly understand the effects of a particular method. Renee’s 15 year old daughter says she enjoys the freedom to learn and progress at her own level. Although she admits she doesn’t always like being in the same level as some of her younger siblings in certain subject areas. Although, this is typical for large homeschool families regardless of the method chosen. Like many students, Renee’s daughter says she enjoys reading a variety of different books and “think about those ideas and make connections for myself instead of being told by a textbook what to think…” She also encourages other students to “keep reading through the harder books”.
Books are full of great wonder both big and small. Intentionally including great literature in your homeschool can result in great benefits, both now and in the future. You can learn about this method and many others by visiting the CCHE Home Education Methods page.
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