Before beginning this homeschool journey and specifically studying Charlotte Mason, I read to finish the book and studied to pass the test. I did well in school and earned good grades, but I didn’t truly learn the material.
Now I am taking a different approach. I am reading a book to gain a deeper understanding. It is not an easy approach, but is so worth it in the long run.
Also, since I encourage my children to read this way, it is important that I also practice it–for two reasons:
- I can set a good example.
- I will know how difficult it is to read this way and will have realistic expectations.
How to read a book for deeper understanding
I talked about why you should narrate in this post. Basically, narration is retelling what happened in your own words. You can tell your husband or a friend what you read. I find it is helpful to read a small section and then write a short summary of that passage in a notebook.
The goal is to read with your full attention so you can do this with one reading. This takes practice and you may find that you need to train yourself by reading a smaller passage before narrating.
2. Ask, “What are the main ideas?”
After finishing the chapter, take a step back and ask yourself what the main ideas were in this chapter. How do you identify the main ideas? Ask what the author wanted you to take away from this section. What did they want you to remember? What is really important? What issues are being addressed?
It is great if you can do this from memory. Often, I need to look back over my notes or underlined sections. I write these main ideas in my notebook. This is another way of narrating and reinforcing what you learned.
3. Ask, “Do I agree?”
Next I ask if I agree with these ideas. Many I do. Some I do not. If I do not agree, I think about why.
4. Ask, “How can I apply this?”
Lastly, I ask how I can apply these main ideas to my life. Did I learn something about myself and my character that I need to change? Is there something I need to do differently in the way I teach, approach life, or in my work methods?
This approach has allowed me to study a book without adding time to my already full schedule. I connect with the book at a much deeper level and am able to apply what I have read to my daily life. I hope you will find similar results from using this approach.
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