This bothered me so I talked to him about it. I'd tell him, "I'm going to read this small section and have you tell me what we read." I would read and stop to ask him. He would almost verbatim tell me what we read. The first few times this satisfied me. He told me the same words I read. Then it occurred to me he was only memorizing the words and not really understanding them. "Now what?" I remembered asking myself.
One day while reading Johnny Terrmain I stopped and asked everyone what "desertion" meant. They didn't really know, so I defined it. Then their older college age brother came in and defined it even better and we talked about examples. When I felt everyone understood I went back to reading. The story about Pumpkin, Johnny's friend getting caught and tried for desertion continued. Tirzaan, my 6 year old got up from the floor and sat next to me and asked, "What does desertion mean?"
I was shocked. Wait, how in the world could he not have gotten anything from the discussion we just had? I explained it to him again trying not to sound frustrated and a little disgusted.
I pondered on this incident for some time. I have concluded - children must have a question and seek the answer before true understanding can happen. This is a life changing principle for me. I'm so glad I discovered it and will now be a better teacher for my children.
Tresta Neil is a homeschool mother of eight. She was born with curiosity and increases that curiosity through symbology!