Read Aloud to Your Readers!
Many children are reading independently by the intermediate years. With my oldest two, it didn’t occur to me to keep reading to them once they were flying solo. My job seemed complete; the skill of reading and the habit of reading were set.
It was natural to read books aloud to the following two children for much longer as those skills and habits were set much later. Also, in those early years of parenting, I was always eager to get to the next stage. Eventually, my thinking shifted and I did everything in my power to settle into each stage and stay as long as possible.
My youngest four have been read to a lot and it is a stage in which I’m in no rush to let go. Even my 16-year-old, 6-foot-tall son is part of our morning time read-aloud.
Continuing to read aloud to your readers comes with some perks so keep going!
Every family develops a family culture. Have you put thought into what you want your family culture to look like, or is your family operating on factory settings? Being purposeful about developing a culture of reading aloud is a very simple way to break free from those settings.
There is no shortage of things that pull families away from each other. We need to be purposeful about protecting the things that draw us together. There are expensive and time-intensive ways to accomplish this and then there are the simple day in and day out rhythms of life that I would suggest work even better: eating together, reading aloud, and worshipping together.
I’ve only just begun reading The Life Giving Home, but if you want to be inspired as you build family culture and bonding I think this would be a good place to start.
Avoid Losing Ground
Your readers lose ground when you have been reading aloud to them and then stop because they are reading independently. The vocabulary and writing that your newly independent readers interact with will be simple…by design. Continue to read aloud! We want them to be bumping into language that is above their reading level, not to mention the added benefit of hearing how to properly pronounce difficult words.
Reading aloud together allows you to demonstrate how to soak in everything you can from reading a book. After completing a chapter or two expand your knowledge of the country in which the story is set by pouring over a map book together. The Peterson Field Guides are not just for nature walks! They are a great resource to use as you explore books together. Grab one off the shelf to learn a little more about the animal or flower that was mentioned. YouTube and Google work as well, and we use them but I also love building a family library. Whatever tools you decide to use, the idea is to be reading aloud with your children. It gives you the opportunity to show them what it looks like to be a curious lifelong learner.
Build Communication Skills
When you read aloud to your children you’ve opened the door to all sorts of conversations and communication skill-building. If you are reading to multiple children it’s a great way for them to learn that others may develop opposing opinions, and have differing perspectives. This summer I’m diving into Teaching the Classics. If you are interested in using dialogue and conversation more purposefully in your homeschool then you should check it out too.
Discussing books gives children an opportunity to practice moving their thoughts, ideas, and opinions from their minds to the spoken word. It’s such a simple thing but it builds communication skills. Many families use narration as a foundation to build writing skills. Honestly, it’s not something we’ve been super successful with but its value became very obvious to me as we tried to tackle Writing with Ease. The skill that is developed with this program was a real challenge for my children. I suspect that solid narration skills would have helped. We carry a bunch of narration resources; I have my eye on Know and Tell by Karen Glass.
Keep Reading Aloud!
We all live in a sea of amazing homeschool ideas. You need to know that you can’t possibly do them all and in fact, the “good” homeschool mom is not the one who tries to do it all. You would be wise to slow down, think things through, and be purposeful and prayerful about the homeschooling culture you want. It will mean saying no to things…even good things. Having said all of that, reading aloud to your children is foundational and not a trend. It’s worth making time for.
by Adrianne Curwen
Adrianne is a wife to a public-school educator/administrator and a homeschooling Mama to seven children, ranging in age from 8 to 24 and in 2021 the family added a son-in-law to the bunch. She believes that we have a unique opportunity as homeschoolers to design individualized education that suits giftings, interests, and passions. She and her husband have used a blend of registered homeschooling, enrolment with independent DL schools, and participation in public trade school programs to design individualized programs for their children. She is passionate about using as many read-alouds, picture books, novels, and conversations to educate her children but also gets excited by the amazing homeschool-designed curriculum that’s out there. Adrianne is thrilled by her new role as Communication Specialist for Classical Education Books and is grateful to have an opportunity to learn something new. She is grateful, every day, for her saviour, Jesus Christ, and has no greater joy than when she sees her most important missions field walk with Him.