By Lisa Marie Fletcher
Back to school for homeschoolers is a little bit different. While my friends with kids in public school are busy thinking about things like crayons, backpacks, new shoes, and haircuts, I'm busy planning what subjects to study in the upcoming school year and what resources we are going to need.
This year, in addition to our usual core subjects, we are going to focus on unit studies for science, language, and history. Unit studies are my favourite – not only because I can use them with a wide range of kids, but also I get the fun of pulling together resources from all over the place, including quality reference books.
I usually check first to see if DK has any books on the topics we are studying. Here's why:
Honestly, what appeals to me the most about DK's reference books is that they are so visually attractive. The use of bright, colourful illustrations and photography invites you to pick up the books and take a closer look.
For example, the cover of Super Earth Encyclopedia has a fantastic image of the Earth cut into segments. My kids grabbed it first when it came into the house. But it's not just the cover that is beautiful. This book features a lot of stunning landscape photography. You stare at the photos in disbelief, and they make it easy to open discussion and build an interest in learning more. We really appreciate how DK uses careful planning of pages to make sure to give the maximum learning experience without being overwhelming.
Don't get me wrong, textbooks have their place, but I love that DK books are so profusely illustrated. My kids are very visual learners, so being able to see something really helps them understand.
For example, this year in science we'll be learning about the periodic table of elements. While it might not be hard to memorize the periodic table, it can be really hard to fully grasp what exactly those elements are. The Elements Book is perfect for that, because each element has a full-colour section that not only shows what the element looks like as a sample (or what colour a gas looks like when electrified), but also what we use each element for! That makes this book practical for our study on the periodic table, and it helps my visual learners SEE each element in action, taking it from head knowledge to life knowledge.
It also means that any of my kids can grab the book and look at it because they aren't required to read in order to learn something. I can't tell you the numberof times I've found my toddler and preschooler eagerly absorbing the visual information on the pages of our DK reference books.
It can be frustrating to find a book that looks like a great addition to our homeschool, only to find that I need to explain specific changes that apply to us as Canadians. I love that DK has so many Canadian editions of books. For example, DK has a Children's Illustrated Dictionary and a Children's Illustrated Thesaurus. I love that I can have my children reference them while working, and they will be able to spell centre, colour, and jewellery the Canadian way! These books are going to be in our language bin close by while working.
DK offers Readers of all different levels. My middle boys can read pretty well, but don't like to do it – so whenever I can find books that will help them learn AND read at the same time, I call it a win.
This year, we are studying Canadian history and the timing couldn’t be better for the release of DK’s level 4 Reader, Our Great Prime Ministers. It only has 5 chapters, and all the text is nicely broken up into chunks with pictures and interesting tidbits. This book looks like a perfect addition to our study. It explains all about the job of a Prime Minister and gives details about 12 of most renowned leaders,from John A. Macdonald to Justin Trudeau.
The most encouraging thing about most DK books is that I find my kids looking through them randomly even when it's not “school time.” That's exciting to me. I love to see them learning, even if they don't realize it.
So, excuse me over here as I get our homeschool book bin together for our back-to-school preparations. Thanks to DK, things are coming along well.
Lisa Marie Fletcher is a homeschooling mom with five kids. When she's not teaching her big kids or chasing the little ones, she can be found at her computer where she works to support the homeschooling community in Canada through her blog, The Canadian Homeschooler. In 2017, Lisa Marie created Canada’s first online homeschool conference.