By Amy Butler
Undoubtably one of my favourite parts of homeschooling is the time I spend snuggled on the couch with my brood, enjoying a good book. There is nothing like sharing in the experience of a new adventure or the problem-solving involved in anticipating how certain characters are going to behave in a given situation. Through literature we have the opportunity to anticipate and help our children think through the many and varied situations they may confront in their present and future lives.
EK Books, now partnering with HEA via our subscriptions, have produced beautifully presented books, full of engaging illustrations, exploring some of the potential challenges our children will face in their learning journey.
I had the recent pleasure of reviewing two of their publications:
The Art Garden
Sewing the seeds of creativity
Penny Harrison & Penelope Pratley
Sadie longs to be an artist, just like her best friend Tom. But when she turns her hand to the paint and canvas - everything seems to go south. What Sadie doesn't realise is that along the way, she has been an observant and creative nature-lover, who by the end of the tale has created a living work of art, not on canvas, but in her own garden.
This book celebrates the diversity of our talents and gifts, and can help children to realise that there are many different types of intelligences. Sometimes we just have to take the time to discover what ours might be. We can also celebrate and encourage the gifts we admire in those around us rather than brooding over what we might perceive to be our own deficiencies.
The 'perfect' book for little perfectionists everywhere!
Lynn Jenkins & Kirrili Lonergan
This book is a conversation between two characters. Loppy is having a 'melt down' because he cannot execute his homework perfectly. His wise friend Curly, is able to gently talk him into sense and reason, drawing from lessons in nature. Take the petunia for instance, no matter how neatly you plant them, they do not grow in orderly and perfect rows, yet they are perfect and beautiful just as they are.
This book inspires students to try their best without being crippled by the insurmountable striving for perfection.
Both of these books, and more in the EK range, are weapons in our arsenal to assist our children to approach their learning and growing with confidence and a generous measure of emotional intelligence.
EK's mission statement is aptly 'Books with Heart on Issues that Matter'.
Some suggestions on using books in your homeschool -
We want our kids to be engaged and to find reading time delightful. As parents we need to guard against 'sermonising' when engaging with this type of material. For example, if a child comes to expect that the object of the exercise is to confront a behavioural problem, resulting in an uncomfortable conversation at the end of the story, the enjoyment of reading together diminishes.
I think that as wise and discerning parents, we should let the stories speak for themselves. When we give due credit to our children's innate abilities, we can trust that they will naturally make the connections in the right time. If conversation and discussion is going to ensue, let it be at the instigation of our children.
The other aspect is that reading together creates a shared experience so the 'moral to the story', might not be fully realised until later when situations, reminiscent of the story may arise. Then we can gently call to their minds the lessons they may have learned from the books we've read together. Books give us shared language and imagery. When floundering on issues in which I have felt out of my depth, I have often found that books have come to my rescue. Not that I've gone to the shelf and pulled a relevant book off in a heated moment (although I may have done that once or twice) but that I've been able to relate a situation back to an illustration in a book we've read.
For those who wish to be more intentional in engaging with the issues raised in EK publications, lesson material has also been produced for use in the classroom or in a formal homeschool setting.
Amy Butler is a home-educator with over a decade's experience. She previously worked as researcher and journalist. Together with her husband and four children Amy enjoys life in the beautiful Central West of NSW.