We owe it to every child to put him in communication with great minds that he may get at great thoughts; … and the only vital method of education appears to be that children should read worthy books, many worthy books.
-Charlotte Mason, A Philosophy of Education
This is one of my favorite quotes of Charlotte Mason because it sums up my own philosophy of education, which of course, I stole from her.
At my CM Book Club last week, one of the ladies was asking how you develop vocabulary and grammar, since those subjects are not directly taught in the elementary years of a Charlotte Mason education. They are taught indirectly through great literature. The most effective way to develop excellent vocabulary and grammar is by reading quality books. Many worthy books, Miss Mason would say.
When I am reading to the children, I don't stop to explain what words mean. We don't interrupt a great story to pull out the dictionary. I just keep reading. Think about it: when you talk, talk, talk to your little toddler, you don't stop to explain what a word means. You know that your chubby 1 year old doesn't know the meaning of yesterday or soon or maybe. But they figure it out. You just keep talking and they will start to use those words long before they really understand them fully.
A year ago, Maya was explaining something that happened to her in Liberia and she used the word "vexed". She used it correctly, but it really threw me off and I asked her what that meant. She said: "Um, it's like confused and angry." Um, yes, Maya that's exactly what it means. (She had heard it four or five times in Pilgrim's Progress.)
Isaac, who couldn't speak a lick of proper English at the time of adoption, because Liberian English is much better described as Creole than English, has started correcting his own grammar as he speaks. And not because he's slaving through a huge grammar workbook. He isn't. He just hears excellent grammar all day every day. (Through the literature; I don't claim to have perfect grammar. lol)
This type of thing happens all the time. And all because we simply read many worthy books.