If anyone would ever ask me to choose one part of homeschooling that ranks above all others in fun, learning, and family bonding, I’d have to say read-aloud time. When I think of the perfect homeschool day, you’d better believe it always includes lots of hot chocolate, comfy blankets, and a good book.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret though…
I didn’t always feel this way.
In the beginning of our homeschool journey, I really did realize how important it is to read to your kids, but I always faced two obstacles that, upon reflection, seem to hold back many other homeschooling parents from incorporating read-aloud time, as well:
- I couldn’t find the time to do it. Our school days were too busy, and I was too exhausted at bedtime.
- My kids wouldn’t. sit. still.
Bound and determined to find a way to make this work, I tried every trick I came across to make this work for our family. Some tips were very successful; others not so much. But through it all, we’ve been able to come up with a read-aloud routine that fits our family to a tee.
Today I’m going to share some pointers I picked up that were the most helpful to us along the way.
How to Painlessly Incorporate Read-Alouds into Your Homeschool
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1. Plan for read-aloud time at the beginning of your homeschool day.
One thing I’ve noticed with people who say they don’t have time for read-alouds is that they’re not including it as a part of their homeschool day. For whatever reason, a great many homeschool moms and dads don’t consider read-alouds to be academically important enough to actually carve out a block of time for them.
Not only should you make it a point to pencil this time into your schedule, but you should schedule it at the beginning of your homeschool day for two reasons:
- It is a beautifully relaxing way to ease into your routine each day, and…
- Doing it at the beginning ensures that it won’t get bumped off the schedule.
Makes sense, right?
2. Consider reading aloud as an alternative to other homeschooling methods.
If you’re a family that uses a school-at-home approach, you may find that you don’t have time for read-alouds because you’re spending long periods homeschooling all of the individual subjects separately.
Consider for a moment that it doesn’t have to be that way.
Read-alouds can be a wonderful alternative to textbook learning in that they usually offer a more engaging approach and are genuinely more interesting. Kids who are interested in a topic retain more, don’t they?
If you’re spending time on the Little House series with your kids, that’s history.
If you’re going through the Let’s Read and Find Out books, that’s science.
If you’re reading Who Was Thomas Alva Edison?, that’s history and science.
Are you catching on?
3. Remember, baby steps.
Once you’ve got an appointed read-aloud time, you may be tempted to jump right into reading full chapters of classics like Lord of the Rings and Peter Pan, but one thing you’ve got to remember is that both your children and you will likely need time to transition into this routine.
While some children will naturally sit still for long periods, most children won’t. They need time to get used it.
The same thing goes for parents who aren’t used to reading aloud for long periods each day. Allow yourself the chance to ease into it.
You may want to start out reading only for five minutes at a time, and slowly work your way up to longer and longer periods.
Remember- this isn’t a race.
4. Bear in mind what your children can handle.
As with everything in homeschooling, always take into account what your own children are capable of.
If you’ve got a crew of wiggle worms, you may never get to the point where you can read for an hour at a time.
We’ve been reading aloud for years now, and I will not read longer than about 30 minutes to my kids because I know they’d revolt if we’d go any longer.
Don’t be unreasonable with your expectations. All things in moderation.
5. Experiment with fidgeting.
When it comes to allowing your children to fidget during read-aloud time, I’m going to differ a bit from what most others suggest. While the common consensus is to let your kids move around and play quietly during read-aloud time, I’m going to suggest that you experiment a bit before making a final judgment on this.
Since my kids really do like to keep their hands busy, I used to permit them to play quietly with Shopkins, play dough, paper dolls, and other small toys while I read. Unfortunately, though, I noticed one small problem:
Whenever I would ask them to narrate when I was through, they’d have no idea what I had read about.
Because of this, I was clued in to the fact that fidgeting simply isn’t a good option for all kids. My children really do need to focus on one thing at a time, so random fidgeting is a no-no for us. One alternative I have come up with that seems to be working is to allow them to draw while I’m reading, as long as it depicts something from the book.
Again, do what works for your kids. That’s the beauty of homeschooling.
Incorporating read-alouds into your home education routine may seem a bit intimidating at first, but with a little bit of patience and perseverance, you’re bound to reap the magnificent benefits they have to offer.
Now it’s your turn. Do you have a read-aloud time in your homeschool? What tips would you add?