I'm writing this while on a break from sorting living books purchased for use in our homeschool. I had a great idea while book sorting and made a decision.
I am looking through titles that so far my children have not read, or at least my younger son (now aged nine) has not yet read.
When these were purchased for low prices, some for a dime or a quarter I had high hopes for them. I figured that the nonfiction picture books would be read aloud's for my children who could not read them yet.
The reality of the situation is that we just didn't have time to use these for read-aloud's. Some reasons: stress over unemployment, helping my mother with her Cancer treatment, busyness due to helping my father-in-law with his Cancer battle, which he lost. Dealing with mourning his loss, plus the loss of my two grandmothers in six month's time. Processing emotions of a friend my age with boys my kid's age's death. Helping my kids cope with all the deaths of loved ones and of the woman friend of mine (they now think I may die soon). I'll stop there with the time-consuming endeavors that made just doing The Three R's difficult for homeschooling.
In the last three calendar years my boys have each spent 400 hours of direct instruction in an experiential education nature class. That is a great thing. However covering so many topics in the class didn't mandate that I cover the same topics in depth here at home using book learning. These books about nature have been untouched. Sad, but true, because they are good books!
Now many titles are too juvenile for my soon-to-be twelve year old. My nine year old can easily read these to himself.
These are too good to just get rid of without having been read.
A new plan was hatched.
I am taking the science nonfiction titles that my nine year old has not yet read and making a summer reading list for him grouped by topics (trees, plants, solar system, and so forth). He will do independent reading of these books. This will be counted toward "homeschooling lessons" for the academic year (I start the year on July 1).
At the end I will make a list of topics covered using Katryn Stout's book "Science Scope" as a helpful guide for using proper educationalese terms. I'll do a comparison to see what topics my son learned and how that compares to typical elementary grade scope and sequences. If there are huge gaps, I'll fill them, but I don't think there will be.
Additionally all the books he reads to himself will go on his summer reading list for our town's summer reading program. They give prizes based on the numbers of books read. Why not?
Then as soon as these books are read I am letting them go. I'll be giving them away, swapping them on PaperBackSwap, bringing them to the used book shop for store credit or reselling them.
I have got to reduce the number of books in this house. It must be done. Period.
I'll report back on how it went when the summer is over.
Notes and Other Related Information
My blog post: What is a Living Book? published July 2007
The Charlotte Mason method of homeschooling uses living books as the main book content, not textbooks. One article explains it at Simply Charlotte Mason.Many more article are online if you want more free info, do a Google search.
Good Wikipedia entry on Exeriential Education
Samples of Experiential Nature Education in Connecticut for Homeschoolers:
Two Coyotes Wilderness School, Ansonia, Connecticut
Great Hollow Wilderness School blog, New Fairfield, Connecticut
Kathryn Stout's website: Design a Study great tools for home educating parents, books and recorded lectures. I can't recommend her products and lectures highly enough.
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