by Rebecca Berg ManorI'm in the middle of the endless rereading of favorite books with my two-year-old. Last night my husband read Lost and Found three times, after which our son brought the book to me for a fourth reading. Every parent knows this ritual of childhood. It's equal parts endearing and mind-numbingly boring. It's a rare book that can weather the storm of toddler-demanded repetitive readings without becoming somewhat annoying to the person tasked with the reading. Each Peach, Pear, Plum is one that I still enjoy reading despite months of repetition.
As we have all been through this with our children, it comes as no surprise that one of the questions parents often ask us, is why do you repeat some of the books in your early American history programs? And should I follow the Early American History for Primary Grades with the Early American History for Intermediate Grades. Our answers are mostly, yes and yes!
Between the Primary-level and Intermediate-level Early American History studies three books are the same, d'Aulaire biographies on Columbus, Pocahontas, and Benjamin Franklin. These books are the best biographies we are aware of on these figures and as students progress from the primary level to the intermediate, they will be able to read these books on their own, adding a new experience to familiar material. We find that this is encouraging to students as well as empowering.
In terms of repeating the time period studied in both programs, it's important to remember that not only are students learning history at this level, they're learning how to study history. They're also learning what history is: the stories of people like them! The ability to immerse oneself in a time period grows with repetition. Just as children request to hear the same stories over and over, taking the time to repeat the study of our nation's history gives them the ability build a strong foundation for understanding not just that time period, but how history works, how our world is affected by ideas and action, and how that relates to our lives. Kim John Payne, in his book Simplicity Parenting, observes that "Repetition is a vital part of relationship building for children. By repeating experiences and scenarios in play, as well as in storytelling and reading, kids are able to incorporate what they learn. Repetition deepens the experience and relationship for a child; it helps them claim it as their own...The consistency and security of such repetition is very soothing for young children."
We've found this to be true. As a student becomes comfortable in a time period, she begins to explore more, to ask more questions, to follow rabbit trails. This is especially important in the younger years. So don't be nervous about repeating a time period (or books!) in those first years. It's comfortable for the child and will help them gain a strong foundation from which to branch out and study other eras, cultures, geographies, and more.