I can’t believe we’re already at the second last day of this series. I’m actually really excited about today’s post because I’ll be discussing two tricks that are potentially the biggest time-savers in a large family homeschool- read-alouds and notebooking. (See my video on read-alouds and notebooking here.)
I know that these two terms are often thrown around in homeschooling circles as great ways to supplement learning, but have you ever considered the fact that they can be used as your sole homeschooling method?
The more I use these techniques, the more I’m convinced that read-alouds (or silent reading if you prefer) and notebooking are enough to cover every single subject, every single day, with exception to math.
Not convinced? First let’s take a look at:
How Read-Alouds Can Be Used as Your Sole Curriculum
I honestly don’t think that most people understand the value of books, especially living books. Sure, people know that reading is important, but even homeschoolers tend to downplay the benefits of a great piece of literature.
The truth is, as long as you are engaging your children in a variety of reading material, there is no need for textbooks. None. And as much as I love unit studies, if you or your kids aren’t the hands-on learning type, they aren’t necessary for an effective education, either.
Before you think that I’m suggesting that you read five books a day to your kids to cover each subject, slow down for a second. I’m going to let you in on a little secret….
One book or chapter a day will suffice. One.
You see, I have yet to find a single book that only contained one subject, and do you know why that is? Life isn’t broken into subjects, so it’s only natural that all books will contain information that covers a vast array of subjects.
A few months ago, we read The Magician’s Apprentice. In one fiction book from the children’s section of the library, we were able to learn about Roger Bacon, the Middle Ages, the roots of Oxford University, the invention of explosives, and the fearful attitude of the Catholic church towards science. This book brought to life what a textbook would have just turned into another boring set of facts to forget (not remember, mind you…but, forget.).
And it only took 30-45 minutes a day to read it, instead of hours of slaving over worksheets and boring, just-the-facts-ma’am reading in a typical school book.
The same can be said for practically any other literature- even what some people consider “twaddle.” So many people avoid reading the Magic Tree House series because it honestly could’ve used a good proofreading before it got published, but there is so much great information in these books. My Littles just got done reading one last week, and they were able to learn about ancient India, the Taj Mahal, elephants, and cobras- in one book! As for the bad sentence structure? I use it to show them what sentence fragments and run-on sentences are. Another lesson thrown in the mix, right?
And the best thing about read-alouds (besides bonding with your kids)? It doesn’t matter how old your children are. This is one homeschooling method that is truly multi-level, and it doesn’t even require any tweaking in order to do it!
Now on to:
How to Use Notebooking with Read-Alouds
My kids used to loathe writing. Every time I would assign a report or even a paragraph, they would whine and carry on.
Notebooking changed all of that.
The easiest way to describe this technique is a creative approach to journaling. Every time we start a new read-aloud, I give my children a folder with metal prongs. Then I print out a coloring page that goes with our book, or I allow them to make their own picture, and we glue it to the cover of the folder.
I proceed with reading to them, but I stop every few pages to randomly ask a child to tell me about what I’ve been reading. This is a great way to help them remember what’s going on in the story. After we’re done with the book for the day, I ask the kids for words or phrases they want me to write on the whiteboard in our “word bank.” Finally, I let them choose a notebooking page, and they write about the story. I usually don’t tell them what to write about. Some options are:
- a summary of the chapter
- an account of their favorite part
- a list of events
- a drawing with a caption
- a labeled picture
- a map
- a character analysis
- a prediction of what will come next
After they’ve completed their notebooking page, they punch holes in it and place it in their notebooking folder. After the book is finished, they have an entire notebook devoted to that one title.
Read-alouds and notebooking are such a simple, yet effective, and fun way for your kids to learn. Not only do they allow the possibility for all of your children to learn together, but they also cut out hours and hours of unnecessary busywork.
Homeschooling a large family doesn’t have to be crazy or time-consuming. Give this homeschool hack a try. I wish we would have known about it from the beginning!
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