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Classical Lessons for The Little White Horse

I read The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge with both of my daughters, but created this guide as I shared it with my younger daughter. Here is how we used this guide and some thoughts behind its design.

A Typical Reading Session

  • First, we attend to any of the pre-reading work, if there is any. I tend to keep this casual and we head to the couch together with the book in hand. I usually bring a dictionary, a vocabulary worksheet (if this is a day that I feel the need for this) and sometimes a globe/map if needed.

  • We research or review anything that I think will be helpful for the reading to come. The majority of the time, especially with a literature book rather than a history book, there is very little to no review or research needed. A review might include a discussion of what was happening in the story when we last read together.

  • We go over the vocabulary words together. This can be handled many different ways. I created a simple vocabulary worksheet that can be used to copy a short definition to the words, but it is not necessary to feel that this must be used every time or even at all. I really think it is moments such as this that it is so important to follow your own instincts. Always do what is best for your family. My daughter is quite good with a dictionary for her age, and she uses one regularly with her Latin Derivative Notebook she keeps. I don't always want/need her to use a dictionary and copy the definitions for her vocabulary work, and I don't want the work associated with an enjoyable piece of literature to become a burden to her. The idea is not to drive the love of the work out of it. We sometimes use a vocabulary worksheet, but even if we do, I don't have her do all of the words (especially with Chapter 1, Part 1 which has many more words than normal). Most often, we simply discuss the words. If she can define the word and is quite on target with its meaning, than we talk about it briefly and then move on. If she is unsure or is slightly off with her understanding of it, then I look it up and we read and discuss the definition together. That's all we do for pre-reading work. This typically takes 4-6 minutes.

  • We then head straight into reading it. Generally, she reads aloud to me, but I've been know to take over her readings if the section is long or she is tired of reading aloud.

  • After the reading, we then use one or more of the narration suggestions. I often pick one or two to discuss and then one more for her to write, orally narrate or draw.

  • The literary terms are not required and should be used only as it best fits with your child and their needs. If your student is not ready for this aspect, then please feel free to omit them. You can also include some but not all of the literary terms.

Additional thoughts

This guide is designed to be a convenience and help to a busy homeschooling teacher. It is not expected that every book needs this amount of time devoted to it. Ideally, the homeschool teacher could pick and choose a couple of books for each term from different subject categories and include a more focused study for these. Also, some books lends themselves better to a deeper study than others.

The Narration Suggestions are just that...suggestions. Choose your own ideas, adapt the ones I wrote, use one but not the others, or add to them. I include at least two or more if I can just to give variety and appeal to various ages and learning styles. With my daughter, I like to vary them just to keep things interesting for her. Some days, I ask for more discussion and thought, some days I want to have her write and other days I send her off with a picture to create.

The descriptions in The Little White Horse are very rich. These beautifully written descriptions lend themselves to narration suggestions which allow the child to draw a picture or create a map based on the text in the book. Reading carefully enough to fully draw up a mental image of a person, a long drive approaching the house, the locational relationship of buildings to each other as described in the story, etc. is a skill worthy of developing. This book is very well suited to this.

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