I am glad you asked! It is important to know that the assigned literature books are not designed to be “reading practice.” They have a different purpose: to impart to students language and vocabulary that they might not have encountered before, as well as the historical setting that their grade is studying. Most of the books are at or above grade level in order to stretch and grow their brains and expose them to the history and culture of different times and parts of the world. The assigned projects that accompany the books may have a reading comprehension element ascribed to them. Identifying characters, setting, theme, plot, conflict and resolution tests the student’s ability to understand what they have read and prepares them to analyze literature and become better writers themselves in high school and beyond.
What can I do if the literature books are too hard for my child?
It is not uncommon for students and parents to find a particular literature book challenging for the child. And since literature is taught primarily AT HOME in 3rd-7th grade, often the parent will see the child’s struggle with the literature more than the tutor. So what can you do? First, if the struggle is reading ability, know that many parents read these books aloud to their child, find a YouTube video of someone else reading them aloud, or get them on audiobook (which is great for long car rides!) Second, if the vocabulary is too hard, your child may need to look up the words. They should have access to a dictionary, either in print or online. It may take longer to get through the book if you have to keep stopping to look things up, but if one of the points is to expand their vocabulary, it doesn’t help anyone to skip over the hard words. Help your child learn how to read hard things. (Work with the tutor to modify the literature assignment if you find that you really need to emphasize vocabulary review with your child.) Third, if it is a theme or plot in the book that they don’t understand (i.e. How is the camp in the Alps both a beginning and an end for King Charles and Carl?) you might need to reach out to the tutor, or use some notes online. It is not “against the rules” for a homeschooling parent to look up a summary on Google of a particular literature book in order to help your child understand what is going on in a book! And sometimes the tutors may have a summary (or have read the book many times themselves) and they can provide you with the information you need to help draw out your child’s understanding of the plot or conflict and solution. Many of us have answer keys we would freely share at a parent’s request in order to help a child have a CORRECT understanding of the literature at home.
What can I do if the literature books are too easy for my child, or if we just don’t like a particular literature book?
Ask the tutor if there would be any other titles your child could read that would serve the same goals! There are so many good books out there. Know that reading different books may present a challenge to the tutor when it comes to grading, but with good communication between the tutor and the parent, there are circumstances where this can be done! (The History Department has a secret menu like Starbucks. Just ask for our recommendations!)
This is part of the Board Bits: Tips, Tricks, and Hacks series. Is there a question about CHA or homeschool that you would like answered?
Submit inquiries to Tracey at email@example.com