Have a few teens in your house? Then you know about that fine line, the one that makes you wobble between giving a young person the freedom to develop their own lives and the need to keep them from crashing in the process!
When it comes to homeschooling, the wobbling is even more pronounced. On the one hand, you want them to take off in the area of their interest. On the other hand, you also want to make sure they are developing skills that will benefit them in the future, even if they don’t see the need for them right now.
When I was a teen my mom said I should take typing in school. I hated typing. A counselor at school had seen my standardized test scores and had pumped up my ego with ideas of an Ivy League future, so I sort of had the idea that basic classes were beneath me. Still, Mom insisted, so I took the class (my bad attitude got me a “C” and kept be from becoming an honor student).
Fast-forward to today. Here I am, using those typing skills I gained in high school to write for you. There is no way I could run my huge household and compose a blog post without being able to do at least 40 words-per-minute.
All I have to say is, “Thanks, Mom!”
This is what it is like sometimes. We can see our children need basic skills such as good spelling, grammar, and composition, but they are short-sighted, or being led by grandiose ideals that are based somewhere in the “ego zone.” Or maybe they are the opposite; content to sit and waste their days in complacency while we are turned into the banes of their existence.
This is where The Lesson Book comes in.
The Lesson Book is a way to give them both the freedom to develop their own interests and the structure they need to keep on track. Each lesson includes the elements Charlotte Mason held dear, such as copywork and narration, but with areas for sentence composition or vocabulary development as well.
If you have a young person who spends a lot of time reading, you can ask him to take a book or chapter(s) of a book and perform the exercises suggested in a lesson. He can pick out some words and find their definitions or create original sentences. He can pick a portion and copy it, and then he can use the narration area to either retell the story or write a brief essay on his impression of the reading.
I prefer to simplify things even further by handing my teens McGuffey’s readers. Yes, I suppose I am being a bit “schoolish” here, but I don’t consider the McGuffey’s to be a waste of time. They are filled with gems and jewels; bits of the past that our present is built on, such as Shakespeare, the Bible, arguments before Congress and the Supreme Court, etc. With these readers our children have been exposed to classic poetry and accounts of history we would have otherwise missed.
Besides the richness, the selections are moral and encourage a Biblical world-view without pussy-footing around and talking down to the student (no “trigger” police in our homeschool). The idea is to encourage young people to become ADULTS.
- Read the lesson
- Do some vocabulary study, such as finding words and definitions (for the sixth reader) or composing original sentences with the vocabulary words listed at the end of the lessons (for the fourth and fifth readers).
- Write a narration (stick to this for the fourth and most of the fifth reader) or brief essay on your impressions from the reading (this is for the latter part of the fifth and into the sixth reader).
And that’s all you need to tell them.
Oh, and you will have to check up. For some this will communicate you are interested and paying attention, which will make them feel connected with you. You might want to read what they have written, do some quick correcting here-and-there, and then make a number of positive comments and leave a smiley face somewhere on the page (this is what I like to do, anyway).
For other children you will be reminding (and reminding, and reminding) and asking that work be done-over in places. I know, I feel for you, but this is part of our job as well. Pray for patience and keep up your courage. Don’t forget to add in a good dose of positive input where warranted.
The good news? If you do things right, your teen should not have to spend more than one-half hour a day honing his basic reading and writing skills. Or, you could require an entire lesson be done in one day a week so that the rest of the schedule is open to to other things. You could even give him the option of completing a certain number of lessons and then he is done for the entire year (making sure the work is still quality, of course).
And here is a bonus: The Lesson Book is hard to lose! There’s just something about youthfulness that makes some kids forget the details, like keeping track of assignments. If I hand out sheets of work to do, they may be done but never found (until ten years later when they turn up under the junk pile in the back yard). The Lesson Book is more tangible and easier to track.
Have I piqued your interest? To find out more (including where to buy) make sure and click here for The Lesson Book page.