Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Homer’s Odyssey

During our second year of homeschooling, I gave birth to our third child. Many of the details of that year are lost in the fog of pregnancy and baby induced sleep deprivation. I had a 6 year old (1st grader) and a 4 year old (preschooler). As a result of this challenging circumstance, I stumbled across an educational truth: If you set the stage, children will learn even (or especially) when you are not actively involved.

We were using an approach which emphasized read-aloud books. Because of my time constraints and limited functioning brain cells, I began using books on tape. I just didn’t have the time to read as much as I had hoped to my kids. Luckily, our local library carried quite of few of the books on our reading list. I would introduce the book on tape while we were in the car. In the car, I didn’t have to compete with the interruptions at home. A typical errand took about 10-20 minutes driving time, which was long enough to get them interested. After they were interested in the story, they eagerly listened while at home.

At this time, our city was building a new library. The old library was going to be closed for 3 months. After which, a temporary library would be open until the new library was completed. As a result, patrons could check out books for 3 months!!! That year, we were studying the ancient Romans and Greeks. The day before the old library closed, I got some children’s books on ancient Rome and Greece. And as an after thought, I grabbed Homer’s Odyssey unabridged on tape for myself. I figured in 3 months I would get around to listening to the 26 tapes in the box.

We spent the next day dressed up in togas made from old sheets, reading the children’s books and doing a few suggested activities. The following day was a hard one for me. I had been up most of the night with the baby. My husband got the kids up, fed them and left for work. I got up when the baby woke up a few hours later. I realized that house was awfully quiet. I found the girls in their bedroom, dressed in togas, sitting by the tape player. They were listening to Homer’s Odyssey. After that, we took the Homer tapes every where we went. As I would pull into the driveway after an errand, the girls would yell, “Don’t turn off the car.” They wanted to keep listening to the story. We finished all 26 tapes by the time the library re-opened. My 4 year old also picked up a nice British accent from listening to the tapes.

I just love homeschooling.


Anonymous said...

I'm a proud grandmother of Janine and Henry's three daughters, but I'm posting this comment as "Anonymous" because I want to see what happens when I use this option.

My comment:
As Janine wrote, her daughters not only listened to the Homer's Odyssey tapes, they are excited about learning almost everything.

One of our son's asked us to video tape "Super Nanny" for him. One day Janine's daughters came to our home and wanted to watch a video or DVD. In an attempt to be humorous, I asked if they wanted to watch one of our "Super Nanny" tapes. They said "Yes!" and were so fascinated by it they watched it twice. I believe that home schooling has helped the girls develop an intense interest in learning, a capacity for extended concentration, and a delightful joy in life. I'm grateful that Henry and Janine are home schooling their daughters.

Happy Elf Mom (Christine) said...

Thanks for this blast from the past! I can just imagine the toga party now. :)

Henry Cate said...

It was fun. It would have been nice to have a picture.

LM said...

I just found your blog from another blog. I've been reading so many I can't even tell you which one. My 5 year old son and I absolutely love books on tape. We haven't gotten to anything heavy, just a few of the kids books like Flat Stanley, Junie (blech) and Magic Tree House while we're on our way to school and home. I teach second grade. He loves Jack and Annie and pours through the books here. I need to check out the listening library better and raise the bar!

Nadene said...

I just love this story! We love audio books too, especially when crafting or working together in the kitchen. We often listen to audio books in the car on longer journeys, our recent favourite was "God's Smuggler, Brother Andrew".
In my post Shakespeare and Audio Books I linked to a really controvertial post which posed some interesting views against audio books.
For busy (& sleep-deprived) moms with lengthy books to read aloud (& sometimes different books for each child), audio books are a fantastic option!