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The first, and probably most exciting thing when beginning formal lessons, is, for many, reading instruction. In Home Education, as Charlotte Mason lays out her approach to education for 0-9, she also gives a complete, sufficient method for reading. I have written about this approach before, and how it compares to two modern approaches, phonics and whole language, but today I’ll focus solely on the method that she suggested for a child of six or seven. Since many Charlotte Mason families I know teach the alphabet and some beginning phonics through play during the early years, I’ll skip right to the first reading lesson and give you lots of resources for teaching your child.
In this series of posts, I’m digging into Charlotte Mason’s volume, Home Education, to explain how she urged us to teach each subject. It looks much different than many other Charlotte Mason curricula, but I trust that this volume was Holy Spirit inspired, and this curriculum will suffice for my six-year-old. This felt like a lot to me, especially in a season where I will teach a six-year-old and have two very young children to tend to. I’ve put together a booklist that we’re using, which you can download.
"But example is better than precept, and more convincing than the soundest reasoning. This is the sort of reading lesson we have in view. Tommy knows his letters by name and sound, but he knows no more. To-day he is to be launched into the very middle of reading, without any 'steps' at all, because reading is neither an art nor a science, and has, probably, no beginning." Home Education, page 217
Charlotte Mason beautifully described the process, not steps, of reading lessons using a nursery rhyme that had been cut up word by word. You can do this easily with a computer and a printer. Just type out a rhyme, print it, and cut out each word. I've done this for you, as well as wrote out specific lessons, in my reading printable packs.
An interesting word from the poem is introduced, and the child's interest is sparked. The word is familiar and he wants to know more about it. The parent then instructs the child to write out the word with his set of letters (I prefer wooden letters!) and then identify the word from the little cut-up rhyme. This is repeated with a clause until the child knows several words, sometimes over the course of a few lessons.
Instead of just identifying and building each word, the child is encouraged to really keep the picture in his mind. Allow him some time to concentrate on the shapes and order of the letters.
Read Home Education, pages 214-218
Using the same words from the reading lesson, your child can rearrange them into new sentences. Charlotte Mason used the example:
I like little *kitty,
Her coat is so warm.
The child starts by putting a sentence together, finding one word at a time as it is told to him.
I like little kitty.
Now he can read a sentence! Then, he can make different sentences based on the words he has recently learned-
Warm little kitty.
I like her coat.
Kitty is little.
*I used a modern word instead of the original.
The words can also be arranged in columns, so your child can practice reading them at random.
Read Home Education, pages 218-219
Word Building Lesson
Now that the child can read words as a whole, he can experiment with the smaller sounds. Today, this is often called word building. Using the wooden letters, he can spell a word in the rhyme, such as coat.
By changing the first letter, he can make several other words.
Read Home Education, pages 219-220
After learning so many new words, your child actually knows more than he thinks. On a chalk board or white board, he can write rhyming words that he knows.
Reading for Older Children
Once your child has learned how to read, he or she should have practice reading aloud.
"He should have practice, too, in reading aloud, for the most part, in the books he is using for his term's work. These should include a good deal of poetry, to accustom him to the delicate rendering of shades of meaning, and especially to make him aware that words are beautiful in themselves, that they are a source of pleasure, and are worthy of our honour; and that a beautiful word deserves to be beautifully said, with a certain roundness of tone and precision of utterance." Home Education
Therefore, the selection of their first lesson-books is a matter of grave importance, because it rests with these to give children that knowledge is supremely attractive and that reading is delightful. Once the habit of reading his lesson-book with delight is set up in a child, his education is--not completed, but-- ensured, he will go on for himself in spite of the obstructions which school too commonly throws in his way." Home Education, page 229
My biggest surprise while creating this curriculum for my daughter is the usage of poetry for reading practice. I previously viewed poetry as a completely isolated subject, but I appreciated that it could also be used to help my new reader grow.
Home Education Curriculum: Reading
All that to say, these are the things I took into consideration when planning a curriculum based solely off of Home Education. Miss H and I have already addressed those first reading lessons, but this is what he did, and will continue to do, for reading.
First Reading Lessons:
Continuing Reading Lessons:
Reading Literature, The Primer by Harriette Taylor Treadwell
Reading Literature, The First Reader by Hariette Taylor Treadwell
Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobe
Little Bear by Else Holmlund Minarik
Little Pear by Eleanor Frances Latimore
Favorite Poems Old and New: Selected for Boys and Girls by Helen Farris
Additional Poetry for Practice:
When We Were Very Young by AA Milne
When We Were Six by AA Milne
I'm thankful that you're joining me as I share our Charlotte Mason curriculum!