Over the years, I’ve received many questions, as well as some skepticism, about our literature based homeschooling method. What is it? How does it work? Do the kids really learn? Do you really only use books??
My simple answer to all of those questions is a resounding YES!
However, you and I both know that my simple answer is not enough. So, here we are. Grab a cup of tea and let’s dive into the world of literature based homeschooling together.
Literature Based Homeschooling
Let’s start with the most basic question – what is literature based homeschooling?
Literature based homeschooling simply means that you rely on novels, living books, and even picture books instead of textbooks as your main source of information.
Essentially, you replace dry, fact-filled texts with engaging stories. There are four ways to enjoy the stories.
- you read aloud to the kids
- one of the children reads aloud
- the children read independently
- you all listen to an audiobook together
Now that we’ve covered that, let’s dig into those burning questions.
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How long do I have to read aloud each day?
That’s totally up to you!
(If you are new to reading aloud in your homeschool, I recommend reading Developing a Read Aloud Culture in Your Homeschool.)
The amount of time you read aloud will depend on who you’re reading to. In general, the older a child is, the longer they’ll listen to you read. If you’re reading to a 2-year-old, you’ll be lucky to get three minutes of focus out of him.
One trick to stretch their listening time is to keep their hands busy. Read this article for some fun, easy read aloud activities.
When you first start reading aloud, you’ll have grandiose dreams of sitting in a chair, reading a wonderful book, while your children play silently at your feet. This is NOT going to happen.
At first, reading aloud will be a struggle- a real struggle. The kids will whine, bargain, and maybe even throw fits.
The key here is consistency. As long as you are consistent in reading to them, they will fall in line, I promise.
If you’re interested in learning more about becoming a read-aloud family, click the picture below get access to my free Read Aloud Workshop.
Will it work with different ages?
Whether you have all littles, all bigs or a mix of both like me, literature based learning can work for your family. The beauty of this method is that you can school everyone together for several subjects.
My children who are still at home are 2, 4, 6, 7, and 16. Quite the spread, huh?
I can read a book – whether it’s a picture book or a novel – and they’ll all understand what’s happening in the story.
There’s no way my younger children would be able to read a novel on their own, but they can listen and understand just fine.
Think about it. Your children started talking and carrying on conversations long before they learned to write sentences or paragraphs. Reading aloud is the same concept.
How do you keep from feeling overwhelmed as they get older and the books get longer?
Ideally, the older your children get, the more independent learners they will become. And as far as I know, there is no homeschool rule that says you must read every single book your older children read.
If you’re worried about being able to have meaningful conversations with your kids about the books they are reading, there are several options.
- There may be a Cliff’s Notes for the book your child is reading
- Check Plugged In for reviews and ratings on books and movies
- Sonlight’s Instructor Guides come with detailed information about each book and make it easy for you to carry on conversations
- Common Sense Media is another review website that checks for family-friendliness and provides synopses
If you are using a curriculum that has the year’s plans all laid out, don’t feel like you have to do absolutely everything. Guides are meant to help guide you, not be your whip-bearing dictator.
Of course, you could always have your children read the books aloud to you, or better yet take turns reading to each other!
Will my children retain the necessary information?
Think about it this way, would you remember more by . . .
A) Reading a list of dates, facts, and names.
B) Reading an engaging story of heroes, battles, love, loss, and overcoming outrageous odds?
You’d answer “B”, right? Well, so would your children.
By reading stories – whether made up or historical fiction – we make emotional connections with the characters. We form memory-making bonds with these books that inspire us for the rest of our lives.
Here’s a side note about retaining the “necessary information”
Who decides what that necessary information is? Your teacher’s guide? Your friend?
As your children get older and start to discover what they think they’d like to do as adults, then they’ll know what information they need to know because they’ll want to know it.
If your child is planning on going to college, check that college’s admission requirements and make sure you hit those points in high school. But when your children are younger (7th grade and younger), mama, give your children and yourself a break!
They will learn everything they really need to know in high school. The younger years should be full of discovery, creation, and fun.
Trust me (as a mom who has graduated one already), your grown children aren’t going to look back on their homeschool career and remember the math worksheets or science quizzes.
They’ll remember sitting in your lap and reading books, eating brownies while using chalk pastels, planting and playing in the garden. They’ll remember the important stuff. 😉
How do you grade?
Okay, truth be told, I don’t.
There, I said it, aside from math in high school, I don’t grade my children’s school work.
However, I do observe them and am able to see if they are mastering whatever they’re working on. I keep records of their accomplishments and breakthroughs. I keep book logs and samples of their work throughout the year.
We may not have report cards, but we do have proof of learning.
Why do you use this method?
I use the literature based homeschooling method because it’s freeing. We aren’t bogged down by workbooks and textbooks and deadlines and tests. We live life with curiosity and freedom to jump down whatever rabbit hole catches our eye.
Our days are filled with adventure, wonder, and whimsy. We have snacks with the Lost Boys, cheer for Winn Dixie, and cry for Charlotte. We talk about how other people live, what they eat, and try to make the same foreign foods ourselves. We experiment. We play games. We create.
We do the fun things, the important things. We enjoy life, one day at a time.
So, my answer to you is yes, literature based homeschooling definitely works.
A few recommended materials to help you in your read aloud journey
All of these books are excellent choices to continue your journey in literature based homeschooling.