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Planning post 2016! Should You Have Your Child Reread Books?


Occasionally, I hear from a mother who wonders if she should have her student reread a book by assigning the same book again the following school year or having him reread it during his free time. Usually,  the parent feels like her student didn't "get it" and the concern is that there may be a gap or a lack of understanding if the child just moves on to the next book. I understand this, as I am fairly certain that there have been a few of these situations with my own children when a book didn't seem to be really understood by the student.

My response is to not redo any book. Let me explain.

First, do make sure you are scaffolding the child into the book properly.  This could be a simple introduction to what he is reading and maybe the why behind it, as opposed to handing the student a book and just telling him to read it without the proper scaffolding, narrating, and subsequent exam.

Second, does having a child reread a book respect his personhood?  Do we not think that he won't take from it exactly what he needs at this point in his life?  How would you feel if you read a book, did the work (narrating),  and  took a few thoughts away from it just to have someone say you didn't get the things out of it that the teacher thought you should have? Could this be an example of not cooperating with the Holy Spirit as He educates your child?

Thirdly, if the feast is rich and vast, moving on will ensure fresh thoughts and ideas will come his way that might inspire him to dig deeper into subjects and books they have previously been acquainted with.  If they choose to reread on their own time, that is a different and wonderful thing than assigning it as a school book or even assigning it as a  free read.

Two years ago, I assigned my daughter Josephine Tey's The Daughter of Time, a book that explores how a modern day Inspector from Scotland Yard becomes obsessed with a portrait of Richard III.   No scaffolding or anything, just handed it to her. (It was a rough year for many reasons.)  She didn't like it, didn't understand it and hasn't picked it up since.  Fast forward to this year as I am preparing Richard III for our Shakespeare play this term. She notices the picture of Richard III I have on my planning sheet, mentions some book she  read that had something to do with this, finds it on my shelf and states that she needs to reread it, as it didn't make much sense to her before. (Silent "YES!" from mom!)

Large room, big banquet, rich feast.  CM knew what she was doing.

Here we have Miss Mason talking about repeating lessons and how, if everything is in place, this should never be necessary if the student understands that the onus of the work is on him (the student), not us (the teacher). While books are not lessons, they are part and parcel of the lessons and ideas are ideas.
All school work should be conducted in such a manner that children are aware of the responsibility of learning; it is their business to know that which has been taught. To this end the subject matter should not be repeated. We ourselves do not attend to the matters in our daily paper which we know we shall meet with again in a weekly review, nor to that if there is a monthly review in prospect; these repeated aids result in our being persons of wandering attention and feeble memory. To allow repetition of a lesson is to shift the responsibility for it from the shoulders of the pupil to those of the teacher who says, in effect,––"I'll see that you know it," so his pupils make no effort of attention. Thus the same stale stuff is repeated again and again and the children get bored and restive, ready for   pranks by way of a change. - Volume 6, p. 75
So move on and keep the frequent changes of books happening in your household.  If you need a reason, Miss Mason gives you one here:
"One more thing is of vital importance; children must have books, living books; the best are not too good for them; anything less than the best is not good enough; and if it is needful to exercise economy, let go everything that belongs to soft and luxurious living before letting go the duty of supplying the books, and the frequent changes of books, which are necessary for the constant stimulation of the child's intellectual life. We need not say one word about the necessity for living thought in the teacher; it is only so far as he is intellectually alive that he can be effective in the wonderful process which we glibly call 'education.' " - Volume 2, p. 279
And please don't overlook the fact that YOU need to be intellectually alive, too.

Warmly,
Nancy

Here are some previous planning posts you might enjoy:

11 comments:

  1. When she says frequent changes of books is she meaning getting through whole books or short lessons?! Thank you for this post! Timely and wonderful reminders!!! :)

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    1. Dear Amy,
      Well, I think she is speaking of changing up whole books (say, from term to term or year to year) but it also applies to the change of books that happen between lessons. So my answer is "yes"! It applies to both. Of course, we know of some living books that she used over a year or two, but others would have been fresh for the term.

      I think it is interesting (and telling) that the entire passage (below)comes under the chapter titled, "The Great Recognition Required Of Parents"!

      Warmly,
      Nancy

      Children must have the Best Books––One more thing is of vital importance; children must have books, living books; the best are not too good for them; anything less than the best is not good enough; and if it is needful to exercise economy, let go everything that belongs to soft and luxurious living before letting go the duty of supplying the books, and the frequent changes of books, which are necessary for the constant stimulation of the child's intellectual life. We need not say one word about the necessity for living thought in the teacher; it is only so far as he is intellectually alive that he can be effective in the wonderful process which we glibly call 'education.' Volume 2, p. 279

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  2. Ahh, I love this. I mostly love the reminder that we don't need to get in the way of the Holy Spirit. There are books I read as a teenager--re-read as an adult--and got completely different things from them each time. There are a few books I believe I will re-read until I'm an old woman because each time something new springs forth! The child will absorb what he or she needs to know.....we don't have to commandeer that process. Such a good reminder! Thank you!

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    1. Dear Polly,
      This is so true! I have a book on my shelf of books about books called "Nothing Remains the Same" by Wendy Lesser where she chronicles her experience with books in high school and then 20 years later with the same books. So interesting!
      Warmly,
      Nancy

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  3. Thanks for this gentle reminder to trust the Holy Spirit as we move into a new school year with our children. Loved this!

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    1. Dear Amy,
      I just love new beginnings! Blessings to you this new school year.
      Warmly,
      Nancy

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  4. "Large room, big banquet, rich feast. CM knew what she was doing." I love hearing stories from CM moms that confirm that a CM education does, in fact, work! It's easy to forget that in the day to day when we sometimes don't see much fruit. :) I'm glad you reminded us, as well, to be scaffolding for the children--even when they're reading the book on their own.

    Thank you for your wisdom! :)

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    1. Dear Catie,
      And you are doing such a fabulous job, Catie! Thank you for stopping by.
      Warmly,
      Nancy

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  5. What a great post and comments. I learn so much from you, Nancy, and from the questions that you answer. Thanks for reminding us we have to be intellectually alive ourselves.

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  6. I was so excited to see this post! Such wonderful reminders and encouragement! Plus, we are discussing the last few chapters of Vol. 2 at our CM Book Study next week. I LOVED this chapter on the Great Recognition Required of Parents and appreciated hearing your thoughts here. Thank you!

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