When I think of how I’ve changed as a home educator, the biggest area is literature. I like to think I understand math, Latin and our English language better. I still believe history should be taught with living books and biographies, even if I waver on the best implementation. I think science is even cooler than before, and that’s not all due to the Mythbusters.
My older two boys and I read some Greek myths. I even read a few picture books about various myths & fairy tales to all three boys. I’m still not to sure about the relationships between the gods and goddesses, but we enjoy Theseus growing strong and lifting the stone, We cheer when Perseus slays the gorgon. I decide myths are kind of cool. Besides, I’m understanding those old Star Gate shows on Amazon Prime a lot better now.
I join in a huge Circe discussion on the Well Trained Mind. I listen to old talks on audio, trying to shift my mind and understand. I hear of a thing called “annotated books” from an experienced homeschool mom. My library has a few, I stick them on hold, the first one I get is Peter Pan. (Imagine my eyes rolling.) It sits on my shelf. Finally I decide I better look at it. I skim the first section about the author’s life, and get to the story, fully intent on ONLY scanning the annotations in the margin. Whether it was the added time and contemplation on my part or the annotations, I start to read the storytext as well. I pull my first book binge in what seems like forever, and read the whole book, annotations and all, within twenty four hours. It’s back on my “read to the kids” stack.
We also restart Ambleside Online, and I have another 6 year old boy. This one can narrate, but he is all wild, squirrelly, bouncy boy. I strongly consider skipping the “Just So Stories” — in fact I delay them nearly a term. But the other readings are going so well (including the violent fairy tales, which we enjoy together), and I plunge in. My tongue is still twisted, but this time I start to like the repeating phrases. They are like lifelines. I read a little snippet that Kipling wrote the stories for his daughter. In one of the final chapters, about a cat, I am rewarded. I tell my just turned 7 year old that it’s a long chapter, we’ll read half. I note my eldest son, now 10 years old, is also staying in the area, listening. I start to read, expecting this to be like the other chapters – cute and good for the kids. I should say I love cats. We read the whole chapter in one session, myself and both boys. It becomes one of my favorite short stories. I anticipate reading it to my daughter in a few more years.
Today’s blog carnival is about Charlotte Mason’s teaching of literature. I’ve been struggling to figure out what to say. But she recommends fairy tales (real ones), fables and myths. She includes tough books like Parables from Nature and the Pilgrim’s Progress. (Which we are starting this fall with a lovely dramatized audio version!) She has them hear the stories of Greece and Troy from Andrew Lang. Why?
The great tales of the heroic age find their way to children’s hearts. They conceive vividly and tell eagerly.
Education is a relationship, development of a person. Literature has a profound impact, and we need to stop worrying about what the child can handle! We need to spread the feast, and trust they will take in what they can.
Why do I read these old stories – the old children’s classics, myths and fairy tales? Because there is evil in the world – there are dragons. I want my children to know that dragons can be killed, that evil can be overcome. We need more heroes in our hearts.