I appreciate this post from Nancy Kelly, which is a transcription of Charlotte Mason’s notes on her trainee teachers’ teaching.
There is no one around to observe a homeschool mom when she teachers her children (unless your husband is working from home upstairs), but I imagine I’m not the only one who finishes a lesson, puts a book to the side, and wonders, “Why isn’t this more beautiful, darn it?!” You know the lessons – the ones where your child doesn’t remember a single bit from the reading, kids were horsing around, the preschooler interrupting, and you really start to doubt that anything is going to sink in. We know something is up, but we don’t get what to do about it.
Miss Mason’s notes in Nancy’s post certainly highlight a few things that I can ‘do about it’. I noticed a couple of themes:
- Much has to do with the way we read aloud a passage. If we give a dull and lifeless reading, or if we aren’t paying attention to it ourselves as we read, that attitude gets passed onto the children. I think it’s worth noting that there were ‘dull passages’ in the school lesson. Miss Mason’s solution wasn’t to skip the dull bits but for the teacher to read better.
- Our attention – and where we place it – matters. If we think narration matters, too, we need to give our attention to our children when they are speaking. Eyes on our child, not allowing interruptions, and really listening to what they say.
I only read this article two days ago, but I’m putting this into practice. I’ve already had a comment from one of the children, ‘Mom, I really like the way you are reading that!’ It was a passage from Our Island Story when Cromwell dismissed the Rump Parliament, which lent itself particularly well to an enthusiastic reading.
Narrations also seem to be more thorough as I sit and listen rather than tick things off a schedule, put books away, count pages for the next reading, etc.