One Step Closer

Well, we are getting one step closer to the launch of the new school year and I am getting a bit closer to having everything settled. I have our day planned out in theory and it looks really good, now we just have to see if it translates well to reality. This will be the first year that Emma will not be with us for our entire Morning Time. I was afraid that this time would come at some point but I was hoping that it wouldn’t be this soon. She will stay with us for Bible reading, memorization, poetry, Shakespeare and notebooks but she will not be with us for our read aloud. Emma has her own history/literature program that she is doing so there is no point in her sticking around for the youngers’ history and literature. We are both hoping that with her leaving MT early she will have more time in her day to finish her studies properly and not feel as stressed as she did last year.

I am excited about my history and literature plans with Caleb and Tessa. We will be using the book list for Yr. 7 found in David Hicks’s book, Norms and Nobility. I used this list with Emma when she was in Gr. 7 and fell in love with the books and the theme of honour and courage that presented itself in all of the books. I definitely wanted to read these books again with the younger two but I thought it would be better to wait for a year until we read them with Caleb. Then I thought while I was already here I might as well do them with Tessa as well. Some of the books might be a bit steep for her but I think she will be able to hold her own. This year, then, we have the joy of reading The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Watership Down, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and The Conneticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.

Earlier in the summer, I listened to a conference talk by Jenny Rallens. I have listened to her talks before and have always been encouraged and excited about teaching just from her words. This talk was no different. It was on memory and how to press ideas and knowledge into a child’s being so that it will stay there and not fly away a moment after release. After listening to Mrs. Rallens’ talk, I began to make plans for our literature time this year.

Having read Susan Wise Bauer’s The Well Educated Mind, I am familiar with the idea of reading a text three times over–each time gaining a new layer of knowledge, digging deeper each time through. Even though I am familiar with it, I have not experienced it because I thought it took up too much time. There were too many books to read to give that all up just for digging a bit deeper into one book. But in listening to this talk, I am inclined to admit that I have been wrong in my dismissal. I am now of the mindset that maybe, just maybe, reading a book three times through might be my answer as to how to focus my children on the books that we are reading.

When we read Till We Have Faces last year, I read it first by myself then read it with the kids. I was surprised at just how much more I noticed the second time around–little details, like the order of events or what one person said to another but I was also noticing themes and literary devices that had escaped me when I read it for the first time. This has shown me that reading a book more than once is the way to go; at least for this year. So we are going to do a trial run of reading a book three times through. Now before you get all up in a bother, we will not be doing this with all of our books, only three of them. Three of the books will receive the inhale deep treatment and the rest will be read just for fun.

The three lucky books chosen for this endeavor will be: Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and The Faerie Queene (possibly only Book 1.) The process will look like this: first time read will be me reading it out loud so we can grasp the gist of the story, 2nd time–digging a bit deeper, analyzing for plot structure, literary devices, etc.(Caleb will read the book on his own this time but I will still read it aloud to Tessa) and the 3rd time will be used for a more of a hands-on approach. This time will be for making things, drawing, acting, writing, but these activities will not be done for busy work but, rather, to help press the story and it’s themes, ideas deeper into the child. These activities need to be chosen carefully for this purpose. This causes me a bit of angst but I will cross that bridge when I get to it.

I am looking forward to teaching these books. It is my hope that in reading a book in this way my kids will take the important parts of these books with them as they go through life.

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