With much of today’s new tools and resources and teaching/learning techniques focusing on project based learning, one might be left to question where do books fit in? How do we take literature and textbooks and incorporate them into this new teaching modality.

Reading is the sister to thinking. But, as is often true, these sisters are very different. Reading is an active learning method, as opposed to listening, which is a passive learning method. (Extrovert/Introvert)

To enhance reading literacy, students should be encouraged to also be physically engaged. Reading sections out loud and gesturing are ways to engage physically. This creates an active component for the visual learner and an activity for the kinesthetic learner. The eye movement required by reading also creates subtle but active participation as you track words, turn the pages,or if you read digitally, click the mouse or flip the pages. Carrying a storyline in short-term memory is a part of the passive engagement of literacy learning.

Reading gets the creative learning juices flowing in a student’s brain. While they read, it would be a missed integrated education opportunity not to take advantage of engaging in writing too. A simple strategy is to read with a pen in hand. As the student reads, he or she should make notes in the margins, underline, circle and highlight.

What? Write in the book? Well, we all probably remember purchasing used college textbooks that were highlighted and had notes in the margins. Often they actually helped us study, making writing in books a great idea! However, if you are a purist, get a notebook and write in that. E-book reading allows you to highlight text with a slide of the finger and make note of important concepts with just the tap of a finger!

However you choose take notes, and whatever tools and resources you choose to utilize, writing the key concepts and any questions, new words, supporting details, etc. creates another active literacy learning opportunity.

Learning to identify key concepts while they read is the number one literacy learning skill. Textbook authors tend to do that for us by providing topic headings and subheadings. However, much of literature doesn’t give these clues and that is where the passive thinking brain comes in.

Have you heard of the term “residue of thinking?” According to a study done at the University of Virginia, the residue of thinking is memory. This study says that learning to activate memory with small clues is easier when we engage more of our senses; creating a very personal form of integrated learning! Studies have shown that chewing gum or nibbling on a snack, fragrances in the air, soft classical instrumental music in the background, and highlighters in a variety of colors — key concepts would be one color, supporting concepts and new words would be other colors — are all ways to enhance memory.

Along with reading for comprehension, learn to question what you are reading. Is it true or is it biased? What supporting documentation does it need? What else needs to be learned to determine the validity of the concept? Write these questions and thoughts down too. Some of them may be answered in the text, others might lead to your next book!

If you are teaching literacy learning make sure your students write a short descriptive paragraph or two about what was the main concept, whether or not they agree with the ideas, and what new ways of thinking did the text inspire. Vocabulary words should also be looked up and incorporated in to memory by using them at least 3 times each in daily speech.

The ability to use integrated education and project based teaching techniques that provide many of the tools and resources that made homeschooling a viable and successful education choice are being explored at an unprecedented rate. Regardless of your choice for your child’s education, enhanced literacy learning should be a part of your tools and resources and their day.

What does a typical day look like for a homeschooling family? In many ways, it is the same as anybody else’s day. Parents go to work, chores are done around the house (you hope), and kids do their homework, either with or without their parents’ help. However, in many ways the day is very, very different for the homeschooling parent.

The Differences

The main difference is that the child (or children, but let’s work with just one), does not need to get out of bed, rush to get dressed, bolt down a breakfast and then catch the bus. The parent is not left alone for hours, and the child is not attending a class somewhere else. The parent does not have to guess or even worry about what is going on with their child because the child is right there.

This difference leads to many other differences. The family may go on a field trip, with the parent learning right beside the child. The child’s craftwork can be shown to the parent immediately and even considered for a fair or craft show. The questions of the student can be answered when they arise, with any needed tutoring provided quickly and effectively. Communications are quick, loving, and productive.

A Possible Schedule

Let us work through an ordinary day in homeschooling, seeing what is done and how long it takes. A key fact to remember is that all times are subject to change as determined by either the teacher/parent or the child.

Many homeschoolers start their lessons in the morning, but notice that there is no bus ride, homeroom, or assembly. Therefore, the child can take time to dress, to eat, and to get comfortable. Lessons start when the child and the parent are ready to start, not at some administratively determined timeslot.

A typical homeschool day covers four or five subjects. Each lesson is individually created for the child, with input from both the parent and the child. Some lessons will take a short period of time, say 30 minutes, and some will take longer, up to hours. Lessons will include reading, writing, mathematics, art, and other activities as needed and desired.

If we take an average of an hour per lesson, the student is done in the early afternoon. Lunch is handled when there is a break between lessons, and after the lessons are done the child is free to run and play without a time limit. The child can control the amount of time needed, while the parent sets the target results.

On other days, there are field trips, library trips, and other outside activities. The child can participate in sports, organizations, and other outside activities without fear or guilt in missing classes. The teacher knows the child will be able to do special activities without having to make arrangements with third parties, and the administrative paperwork is kept to a bare minimum, taking almost no time at all during the normal day.

I guess the main point is that the day is both a lot less structured and a lot more productive than is possible in a school. The time can be structured according to the needs of the student, not the needs of somebody else. The material can be covered as many times as needed and extra activities are welcomed, not treated as a burden.

In short, the child can learn as an individual, with an individualized schedule. There is no typical day, just the day of the child. Learning as it should be.