We're All Active Readers
© Beverley Paine, 2004
Socrates is attributed to recognising the value of asking a series of questions and then examining the answers in depth as a powerful way to learn. When we want to learn something new our starting point is always what we already know and understand or can do. We then ask ourselves what we want to need to know or do, and how we can achieve our goals. We use the same process when we read. We choose what to read by asking ourselves about our likes and dislikes, interests and gaps in our knowledge. As we read, we constantly predict, think about any bias in the book, link concepts and themes, sift through our reactions and refine our opinions as we update our background knowledge and understandings. We're all active readers. You don't need to spend all day with your head stuck in a book or on eye's glued to a computer screen to be an active reader!
It's easy to extend our children's natural active reading skills. We can talk about the reading material before we read it aloud, or before our child reads it. What are his expectations? What is the book about? Can he tell from the blurb and the cover? Has he read books by the same author, or in the same genre? Anticipating a good read is a lot of fun; sharing that fun with someone else makes it better!
Not many of us have a lot of time but if we can it's a good idea to try and read some of the books our children read so that we can discuss the various elements, like style, characterisation, plot, pace, diction, realism, crisis, resolution, and themes. It's easy to do this when we share a book or read aloud, but we shouldn't get carried away. It isn't a 'lesson' - it's a shared reading time! A few comments or questions each session, to prompt deep thinking, should suffice. You can always talk about these elements later.
Once the story or article or chapter is finished you can review earlier predictions and seek opinions. Be imaginative; why not talk about how to make the story into a movie, or a documentary? Could you turn it into a comic strip? Are there betters ways of getting any messages across? Or you could all slip into character and spend the afternoon continuing the story.
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We began educating our three children in 1985, when our eldest was aged five years. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn as they grew and explored and discovered this amazing world since the moment they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. I hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was!
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