Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Recitation in the Homeschool

So picking up from last time, how might we incorporate recitation into our days?

Again, I'm thinking here not just of memory work (which she deals with in the next section and which I do want to chat about another time), but also of reading aloud beautifully.  In many ways, there is obviously going to be some crossover in how we might practice the two.  We already do quite a bit of gentle memorization here, but the skill of elocution, the preparation of a piece to share, the interpretation of a poem or passage for a listening audience--I haven't incorporated these formally at all so far, so that's what I want to consider here.  My two oldest were early readers, so our homeschool schedule doesn't involve phonics practice or reading lessons...and because of that, I have been wondering whether they are having enough practice reading aloud.  I considered adding a "read aloud" checkbox as part of our daily work, but their reading has taken off so well that it just hasn't been a priority for me.  But I think now is a great time to throw in some elocution practice.  And what's elocution without an audience?  So this is all quite timely.

So how might recitation look in a homeschool?

:: A weekly teatime or group learning time at which family members can recite a poem or passage, either one they have memorized or one that they would simply like to read for the group.  This is reminiscent of Mr. Burrell's suggestion at the end of his article:
"Parents should put aside one hour a month (only an hour), when all the family can gather round the fire, and you can hear some of the pieces that have been learnt. Why should not the father and elder brothers take an interest in such things? Is it all to be left to the mother's taste and care? You do not know the pleasure that you give, the lessons you will learn, the lessons you may teach, the talents you foster, by a word or two of quiet discriminating praise, or by a sympathetic silence."
:: The same thing could be done with a homeschool group, maybe as a quarterly activity or as part of a park day or nature study outing.  You might even choose something appropriate for the change in seasons and do the recitations outdoors.

:: Reading quality picture books "clearly, sweetly, and convincingly" to younger siblings can be a wonderful way for an older child to practice elocution and delivery.  And toddlers can make a captivated and appreciative audience!

:: Recitations would naturally be part of end-of-term exams, and Miss Mason suggests doing these in front of fathers.  So perhaps a special end-of-term evening with Daddy that includes sharing of memorized pieces, singing of hymns and folk songs learned, and the reading of a few favorite passages from the assignments of that session.

:: A recitation can make a wonderful "gift" for a family member: perhaps the children could choose a piece to recite for grandpa's birthday or to perform at the Mother's Day luncheon you're hosting for the grandmothers.

:: Holiday recitations are very fun: a Christmas Eve performance for the extended family (this is an annual tradition for us!), an Easter morning reading, a recitation of something patriotic for President's Day or the Fourth of July...the options are endless.

:: Practice it yourself!  We mothers have lots of opportunities to model "beautiful and perfect" reading to our children, and we should take advantage of those both to be a good model for our children and for the many benefits I outlined last time.  I find reading aloud to be lots of fun, but I know not everyone does.  The Read-Aloud Handbook has lots of suggestions for those who want to improve or just want ideas for keeping things fresh.  Mr. Burrell's books seem to be wonderful resources as well.

So are you incorporating recitation in your homeschool?  Do you have other suggestions to share?  I'd love hear other ideas for how to incorporate this most educative subject into our days!

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