Thursday, 12 January 2012

Learning from Literature

Tiger cracked reading pretty much by himself some time in the summer of 2010.  We did some structured reading lessons using the phonics method to get him started, supplemented by lots of read alouds.  Once he could read, he read voraciously (as evident by the number of books he read independently last year).

The natural progression after a child has learnt how to read, I think, is to move on to 'literature' lessons (instead of 'reading' lessons).  Therefore I have been trying to find ways to get more out of our literature books without necessarily going into full literature analysis mode.  There will be a time for that kind of technial analysis, but for now we are exploring the methods of reading comprehension and unit study.

The first book we have completed this year was The Minstrel in the Tower.  This particular book was chosen because: (1) it tied in nicely with the Middle Ages that we have been studying, and (2) it has a simple text which allowed Tiger to concentrate on the lesson part rather than on understanding the story.  The text and story itself were very straightforward as far as Tiger was concerned, and he had read them several times by himself before we got started.  I bought a study guide to help us along.

The guide book provided us with a good starting point.  It is a workbook divided into corresponding chapters following the text.  Each chapter has several vocabulary words to define, comprehension questions, biblical quotes to discuss, and sometimes a quiz.

I used the vocabulary section to teach Tiger dictionary skills.  The comprehension questions were used for his narration exercise, while the quizzes were used as revision.  We completed the book in a few weeks.  While Tiger is now confident of looking up any word in the dictionary, we were not overly excited by the work, even though some of the questions and quotes from the bible did create a few opportunities for mini philosophical discussions.

I am not worried about Tiger's comprehension skills at all, so comprehension-type questions are quite redundant for us.  At the same time I don't think he is ready to tear the plot apart to study character analysis or plot analysis.  Those are way too technical for him at present and will totally bore him.  I hope to find something that will engage him, teach him new skills, deepen his appreciation for the book he is reading, and not be busywork.

Unit study might be the answer.  I'll have to look into that.

This post is linked to the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival - Poetry edition.

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