How to Teach at Home
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Like most new homeschoolers, I started off thinking I had to make our schooling just like what takes place in a brick and mortar building. That included a daily, scheduled routine and segregating learning into defined subjects. Now, as an advocate of self-directed learning (unschooling) my thinking has shifted. I’ve learned from other unschoolers that life doesn’t work that way. Our daily work, no matter what that may be, is integrated with multiple 'subjects'. So why shouldn’t learning be the same?
By reading just a few chapters of the book, we talked about such a wide variety of subjects. When Charles Wallace was trying to explain to Meg the difference between 1st-, 2nd-, 3rd-, 4th-dimension and the tesseract, we paused so I could demonstrate the lower dimensions with my hand. Then we watched the scene in Inside Out where they take the shortcut through Abstract Thought because Dee still didn’t quite understand (he got it then of course). That’s math and physics.
When Mrs Whatsit stated how old she was (which was in the billions), we stopped to emphasize the magnitude of the number and the correct way to say each digit. More Math.
Considering that this book is on a reading level above Dee’s usual selections, there were a ton of new vocabulary words that we needed to stop and look up. We discussed the hyperbolic use of the word eon in everyday expressions like, “I haven’t seen you in eons"! We also found out what an aberration was and talked about how it fit into the book. Vocabulary, language, reading comprehension, and spelling.
Each time Mrs Who said one of her random quotes she said it first in the original language and then in English. Most of the phrases were excerpts from poetry or literature, so she included the name of the author and what their nationality was (ex. Shakespeare. British). That was exposure to foreign language and classic literature.
When Charles Wallace caught on to who some of the lights on Earth were that fought the darkness, Calvin mentioned a few brilliant artists; Leonardo DaVinci and Michelangelo. We stopped because Dee recognized the names as two of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (of course, lol!). Then I wondered who the other two (Raphael and Donatello) were named after, so we looked them up and discussed who they were. Italian Renaissance and art.
Not to mention all the astronomical terms and concepts when talking about the universe and time/space travel. Science.
We also discussed some of the nuances of the children’s dialogue with the Misses and with each other. There was a lot on communication, empathy, recognizing sarcasm, self-esteem, humility, and team work. Literary themes and soft skills.
Whew! No wonder we only made it half-way through the book!
Once children get older, towards the pre-teen years, it’s harder to get them to sit still and let you read to them out loud. (I had to insist we pick up the book and I listened to moans and groans each time. Once we settled into the story, I knew he was hooked.) What comes out of the experience is so worth it though. Perhaps this age is better suited for it because of the level conversation that can take place.
I firmly believe that Dee will remember the things we talked about. Not because we read them in a boring textbook, or wrote answers down on a worksheet, but because we learned about them in story mode. We had dialogue where Dee got to explain to me what he already knew. He was able to verbalize connections he had made between what we were reading and what he learned elsewhere. We even laughed over some of it, and you know what say about humor and learning. It helps retain knowledge.
Who knows what may have sparked his interest in learning more on a subject later. That is how children really learn and grow. By discovery and making connections. I’m starting to think that Charlotte Mason lady must have been onto something when she proposed learning through reading ‘living books’.
We really have enjoyed A Wrinkle In Time so far and plan to finish it soon. I highly recommend reading it out loud together. And if you have a child that can't stand to read so much text out loud there is also the graphic novel version that I hear is done really well.
Have you had a similar experience when reading with your child? What other great books should we add to our reading list?