Charlotte Mason Volume I Part IV:VII-VIII

VII. Recitation

If you provide a child with selections that he can understand and will appreciate, he can learn to recite them clearly and with a natural and meaningful expression. A book with exercises to this end is Arthur Burrell’s Recitation.

If you repeat a selection at odd times while doing something else with the child, he might well absorb it into memory without even trying, and with enjoyment.

One must be careful not to overtax the child with memorization and recitation. Poems and other readings should never be twaddle, but neither should they be beyond his understanding and appreciation, nor too many. Children under six should not be asked to recite.

VIII. Reading for older children

As soon as a child is able to read at all, she should read for herself books on a variety of subjects, and grow accustomed to narrating after just one reading. Thus she will develop the habit of using books for learning and enjoyment, and the habit of reading mindfully.

She should have opportunities to read aloud, from books used in her lessons, including poetry, so as to notice that words can be beautiful and should be beautifully said. Let her read for understanding, and read aloud with her own expression, rather than copying your own model.

Mason discourages too much reading TO the child who can read for herself. She mentions “allowed before bedtime, for example,” which makes me think she’s not too restrictive here (228). I think reading to children is of great benefit at all ages, but perhaps she is right that children should read more for themselves than they have read to them.

One should not ask annoying questions to test for comprehension or vocabulary. A habit of reading will lead to vocabulary development all on its own. Let the child ask questions if she does not understand something. If there’s something of personal interest, rather than a test, ask that — “what would you have done?” and so on.

Let lesson-books be real books, interesting, not patronizing, beautifully written, so that learning from books is a delight from the first.

Keep reading lessons short enough that a single reading will suffice to allow the child to narrate. If she isn’t able, neither allow nor urge going back to read it again. (I can see not urging a repeat reading — but not allowing? What about allowing the child to read it again of her own will, not in order to narrate again?)

Children should be encouraged to enunciate properly. As for punctuation, if they read for understanding, they will recite with natural inflection.


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