As a veteran homeschooler, I’m occasionally asked what “tips” I have to share to those who are just beginning to homeschool their young children.
My response is always simply “reading aloud.”
If somebody doesn’t know what curriculum to buy or where to start, reading aloud is the first step. This enjoyable activity benefits children more than any fancy textbook or workbook can do. Why? Not only are many aspects of life addressed in literature that you can share and discuss with your children, but reading to your children will prepare them to read on their own.
Reading aloud will build your children’s success with independent reading. They may not be ready to learn HOW to read, but they are certainly capable of enjoying the spoken word. Reading aloud offers many skills for elementary-age children:
- Vocabulary Knowledge – children will ask you what a word means if they don’t understand, and they’ll likely remember it as it appears in the story
- Language Skills – hearing you pause at the end of a sentence or inflect a question will be absorbed by your children as you read. Literary devices will be learned even if not by definition.
- Listening Skills – children learn to listen through oral readings. In order to follow along with the plot, they will pay attention to what is happening.
- Imagination Development – with or without pictures in the book, children will create images in their own minds as the story progresses. This is something that is particularly crucial in this digitized age.
Reading aloud from preschool to high school will create avid readers and build self-esteem. Successful, independent readers can educate themselves in any area of life. It does not have to be a large amount of time either to reap the benefits. Here are some read-aloud tips to jumpstart the second half of your school year:
- Pick a regular time of day where you can spend 10-15 minutes reading together and do so every day if possible. Be attentive to your child’s attention span and work around that.
- Read with expression. Children will remember your funny, happy, sad, loud, or quiet voices as you read to them.
- Make connections with your own lives. Ask them questions or point out if something relates to what happened to your family.
- Keep children’s hands occupied if they cannot sit still. They can color a page, build with LEGO, or hold their favorite toy while they listen.
- Use audiobooks for long drives or for times when you are not able to read aloud yourself.
- Select classic children’s books and avoid twaddle. Picture books that will want to be read over and over and over again by preschoolers create fond memories for them as they grow up. My teens still talk about some of our regular read-alouds of years gone by. Classic novels such as the Laura Ingalls Wilder books open opportunities for learning history. Many classics can be followed by watching the movie afterwards. There are several books available with lists of recommended titles for various ages and subject categories.
Reading will always be important. It is truly the most effective way to teach your children whether you homeschool or not. History supports the claim that reading aloud educates and produces lifelong learners.
Mrs. L. is a mother of four home-schooled children (two have graduated) and is a certified Institute for Excellence in Writing instructor. Mrs. L. has taught IEW in both traditional and online classes for over fifteen years and enjoys watching the students improve in their writing skills. As a retired Navy family, Mrs. L. and her family homeschool on the East Coast after twenty years of learning around the world. In her free time, Mrs. L. enjoys crocheting, exercising, cooking, reading, and RVing.