Parenting is one of those things that come with a never-ending list of “research suggests you should …”. Opinions, studies, and ever-evolving philosophies abound when it comes to how to raise your children successfully. That is no different when it comes to raising readers.
Much of the advice, as well-meaning as it may be, is speculative, highly debated, and “trendy.” You can find conflicting evidence everywhere that suggests there isn’t a single universal “truth” in how to navigate the world of child-rearing.
Aside from this:
It is literally universally agreed that it is important to read with your children. Reading with your children is the simplest and most effective way to support your children’s education and raise healthy, well-rounded children.
Make Read Alouds an Everyday Part of Your Homeschool
So, how do you incorporate reading out loud into your homeschool routine? Start small.
Sure, you could jump headfirst into the world of Ambleside Online, ordering all the books and devoting yourself to teaching in an almost purely Charlotte Mason style (I am not knocking that at all, I am in that season because it works for many families).
Or, you could take it one simple step at a time.
Start by picking a book you will enjoy. A “living” book that explores some facet of the human experience (whether it is a historical fiction or a classic novel acclaimed for the centuries).
Don’t expect an hour of attention, even from your older children.
As you build the “quiet” muscles and you start to incorporate reading aloud into your routine, don’t expect that a good book will hold your children’s attention like a three-hour feature film.
Living literature and good books take a certain amount of mental fortitude and concentration. There is a lot to absorb and, if it’s expertly written, your brain will be engaged in creating the world word for word in your mind. This takes effort.
Start with a few minutes and try to take breaks every 15-20 minutes or so (read the room mama, if you’re spending more time reminding the kids to listen than you are reading the actual story, it may be time to take a pause.)
Quiet Hands Don’t Need to be Still Hands
Next, if you’ve committed to reading one chapter a day together, you may notice the fidgets. Your kids may need to keep their hands busy in order to keep their ears open.
My best “tool,” when my children were younger was to have a sketchbook where I encouraged them to draw what we were talking about. This allows them freedom to engage with the story and encourages them to build their narration skills as they listen for little details they can add to their picture.
And last but not least . . .
Your Read Aloud Doesn’t Have to be “Age Appropriate”
Just to clarify, I’m not suggesting you read a Harlequin Romance to your children. Nor am I recommending that your read-aloud feature anything by Stephen King. But, what I am saying is that you don’t have to read at the level at which your child comprehends nor can read themselves.
In fact, I would encourage you to read ABOVE that at all times.
Reading aloud is a time to expand your child’s capacity for critical thought. Having books that stretch them to pay attention, to listen carefully, and to carefully consider what they are hearing is an important lesson for young learners.
One that will benefit them greatly as they grow up.
And a word of encouragement to end this blog post– Mama, they are listening. While you’re reading aloud, your child may be lost in the adventure of the story, but they are listening, even if they are fidgeting, even if they are “zoned out,” even if it is over their heads.
So, if I can encourage you today, start reading out loud with your kids. Make it a daily part of your homeschool (even if it is the only thing you accomplish on the days that go off the rails). Start with living literature, classic stories that bring the world and the human experience to life. Engage in adventure with your children through stories that challenge and shape us.
How do you cultivate a love of reading in your children?
Want to hear more? Listen in to the Military Homeschool Podcast, Episode # 34, Raising Readers: Reading Aloud Past the Kinder Years.
*For more blogs like this, check out Crystal’s Author Page.