Using literature when teaching at home is an excellent way for students to learn while reading great books. Since books exist on just about every subject, just about any subject can be taught using existing written material.
Some curriculum products are based on good literature. When using these kinds of systems, families are required to purchase (or borrow from the library) a selection of books. Then, they follow a study to guide which tells students what to read, and which assignments relate to those readings. Usually, daily lessons are based directly upon what was learned within the readings. As a bonus, all manner of other things (such as identifying good writing and learning parts of grammar) can also be taught using passages taken directly from the literature, too. The Learning Language Arts Through Literature and Beautiful Feet History Through Literature are just two examples of homeschooling curriculum based on literature, but there are others, too.
Parents themselves can also make their own homeschool curriculum using books. After identifying the topics they want to teach, parents simply locate age-appropriate books for students to read about those topics. Students can create their own units, too, either by listing ideas they’d like to study and finding books, or by finding related books and launching a study about some common theme. The series, A History of US is an excellent example of using books to study different time periods of American history. Groups of books like the Childhood of Famous Americans series can also be used alone, or in combination with other books outside of the series.
The benefits to learning through literature are many. In addition to learning what each book is about (comprehension), students benefit by seeing what writing looks like, too. By reading different authors, they experience vocabulary and sentence variety they might not have encountered yet. By reading several books about related places or connected events, students begin reading critically, asking questions and forming connections. When choosing books by different authors, students notice what they like best (or least) about writers and notice differences in the treatment of topics. Ultimately, these readings lead to questions, the formation of opinions and sometimes further research.
Speaking with other homeschoolers and reading homeschooling blogs are great ways to find ways to use literature for homeschooling. Just a few key-clicks should yield studies based on Little House on the Prairie, American Girls, and many others.
Keep in mind that literature can be used for all, or just a part of the homeschooling curriculum. But remember, if using good books is just a way to satisfy a reading requirement, that’s great, too. Literature can always be enjoyed with or without any strings attached.