I love the conversations classically homeschooling our family has afforded. Because our core subjects are on the same topics, we are able to have conversations where everyone can join in. Today I was reading out loud to them, An Island Story, a child’s history of England originally published before 1923. It’s one of my littles’ favorite books we read “for school” and somehow they manage to keep track of all the princes and King, nobles and knights way better than I do. Today we were reading about Richard II of Bordeaux and Wat Tyler. Within the story, there were a few paragraphs on taxes. It said tax collectors were “rough, rude men” and told the story of Wat the Tyler killing a tax collector which began a revolution against slavery in England. Wow. So much there. So many conversations could begin with this rich story. My mind was running a million ways, including to modern day politics and rebellions. But, my crew are still quite young. So, I asked them if they could tell me of a tax collector they knew of with a bad reputation. It took them a minute or so until one called out, “Zaccheus!” That’s right! Zaccheus was a “rough, rude man” who the people hated, but Jesus loved. As we know, the Bible is more than history, but it is also history – a true recording of past events. Today I was able to remind my littles that the Bible is historical and the people were real.
While today I asked a specific question of my littles, oftentimes I keep my questions more general, like “What has happened so far in the story?” or “Who are the main characters?” Beginning to dialogue with them in this way is good practice for a few reasons.
1. Having my children narrate the story (re-tell it to me) teaches them to compose the story succinctly and in their own words. This elementary skill will eventually help them develop the higher level skills of critical thinking, public speaking, and original writing.
2. I also use narration to ensure they are comprehending (to their level) what I’m reading to them. If they haven’t, their narration clues me in to that. And finally,
3. It teaches us how to communicate with each other through the asking and answering of questions. I fully expect a return on this investment as our conversations deepen over the next, several years.