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This guest post is by Charity Hawkins, the author of the The Homeschool Experiment, an entertaining and encouraging novel about what homeschooling is really like.
12 Ways & Benefits of Reading With Your Child - a Parent's MUST READ!
Or, How to Make Your Kids Fall In Love With Reading
We’ve discussed reading aloud and audio books and HOW to make this all happen.
How did it go last week? Did you try an audio book?
I bet one of the biggest struggles is still how to find the time.
Here’s another idea for that:
10. Recruit help.
If your child is learning to read, especially if they are struggling, they need a LOT of help.
There are basically 3 things that should be happening every day when a child is learning to read.
- Phonics instruction or a lesson – this is probably happening either at school or during your homeschool with whatever curriculum you’re using. (This is where you’d use Amy’s How to Read book and after that kick-start, I love the comprehensive phonics/reading curriculum from All About Reading.) This probably takes 20-30 minutes a day. You or a teacher are needed for this one.
- Fluency Practice – This is where the child reads and puts into practice all those phonics rules until they become automatic. The more time you can put in here, the more quickly they will internalize those rules (automaticity) and reading will become FUN instead of WORK.
One way to help a struggling reader is to let them read a little under their reading level once a week or so. This makes reading not quite so much work and more enjoyable. They still need to practice their phonics to gain mastery, but if you can add in some fun easier reading, it will boost confidence. This ideally needs to be 20-30 minutes a day as well.
This is the one you can recruit help for. Think:
- Another parent or grandparent - When I was overwhelmed last year, I gave my husband the fluency worksheet (from our All About Reading lesson) and he and my son read after dinner most nights. If another parent isn’t available, could they visit or call a grandparent once a week?
- Younger siblings- I also had my son read to his younger brother almost daily. Those were baby books, so many were at an easier level, but not all. And he was still practicing the skill of decoding/eye tracking/phonics.
- Older siblings - Sometimes I’ve had him read to an older brother or sister.
- A pet - You can have your child read to a pet or stuffed animal as you prepare dinner. Our library uses dogs for this as part of the summer reading program. A dog doesn’t correct you, so this helps build confidence.
Finding help with the fluency practice frees up YOUR time for the third and critically important…
- Read-aloud time –This is what we’ve been talking about, where you read to your child at a level above their reading level. (Above their reading level to build vocabulary and comprehension.) You can do this, or think about who else could do this. Could Dad do it at bedtime? Could an older brother or sister do this as a break from homework and an opportunity to connect with their younger sibling?
And, like we discussed last week, audio books can fill in here and add to the amount you’re getting in each day.
I shoot for 20-30 minutes a day and most days we get it, but some we don’t. Then I supplement with audio books. It’s not perfect, but I’m thankful that it has given my children an appetite for reading and stories and learning.
As you can see, it does take a lot of time. Your involvement might be needed for an hour or more a day. It’s a lot, but it won’t last forever. Your child is in that critical period for maybe a year or two and after then they don’t need your help so much. They can do more on their own.
It’s a lot like potty training; the beginning is really intense but after they get over the hump, it’s easier.
But it’s a sweet time as well. My fourteen-year-old son won’t let me read to him anymore (not that I don’t keep asking). It is a tragic thing. That season has mostly come to an end. We still discuss books, sometimes we listen in the car together, but that time of snuggled up reading aloud might be over.
If you are in this season, it is busy, no lie. It does require a lot of you. But at least at this age, our kids really want to spend time with us.
When I type this myself, it does remind me the British Baking Show isn’t really all that important. My kids are little for such a short time.
I want to make reading to them a priority while I can. These truly are the memories I have from when my big kids were little. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.
Interested in knowing what the importance is of reading to your child? Or what could be the effects of not reading to your child? Research abounds on these topics and the effects of reading on child development. Check here to see the top rated results for research on reading to your child on Amazon~~ My Three Readers
And two more thoughts on how to make Read-Aloud Time a sweet time at your house:
11. Keep this a delightful, no pressure time
My daughter struggled with decoding (looking back, I think she just needed lots more fluency practice). But she did not enjoy when I’d ask her to read a page or a few sentences in the middle of read-aloud time.
Actually, nobody enjoyed that.
This is purely read-aloud time. Mom or Dad (or the lovely narrator on the CD) reads aloud to the child and they can forget about phonics rules and get lost in the story. This is what develops a love for reading.
This is what made my son in kindergarten try to read Hank the Cowdog books before he could really read. He loved Hank. He wanted to see what Hank did. And if he had to figure out this reading thing in order to get to the story, fine. He’d do it because of his love for Hank.
12. Celebrate Success
I like to keep a really simple list of titles and when we finished them so I can 1) remember what we’ve read for future years, and 2) have a record for our homeschooling., but also 3) so I can see how much we’ve actually accomplished.
Sometimes it seems like we are slogging through mud, making no progress. But usually at the end of the year when I go back and see our list I do feel good, knowing we are getting a lot of great stories, vocabulary, and snuggle time in.
So I’d encourage you to grab a spiral notebook, write “Reading Log” on it and write down both books your child has read and books you read aloud. You can both celebrate your accomplishments.
(I don’t bother writing down picture books because we read way too many of those to keep up with. I just write down chapter books, or books that last over several days.)
I find it helps me to have a chart or something I check off when we do our reading that day. I have a weekly homeschool planning page so I check it off on there. I’ve heard of putting a sticker on the calendar each day you read aloud, even if for 10 minutes. Start to see your progress and be encouraged.
And we often have a fun treat or get an ice cream or something when we finish a long chapter book. We talk about what we liked, what we didn’t, what we wished the ending would have been.
We connect over the book. We learn about each other. We build our relationship.
And isn’t that what this parenting job is really about?
This Week’s Baby Step
Think about who could help out with fluency practice. Ask that person if they would be willing to help out at a certain time of day for a couple weeks or months.
Make a Post-It note for the fridge for your helper to know what time, where to do it, and what the child should be reading. Make it really easy, where they don’t have to make any decisions, just sit and listen. (And a little after-dinner treat might help as well.) Try to help everyone get in the habit of this so it’s one less thing on your plate.
But also be realistic about your schedule. Are there things you need to take a break from for a season in order to free up some more time to spend on reading, on getting your child over the hump?
Is Read-Aloud Time getting easier? How is it going?
Make a new Post-It note for the fridge for yourself. Put your plan for Read-Aloud Time on there. You can decide if you have a good routine or if it needs tweaking.
The most important thing is, don’t give up! If you have a week where you don’t get any reading in, that’s ok. Just try again the next week. But give yourself a big pat on the back.
When you finish a book or get 10 tally marks on your Post-It notes, go out for ice cream. Talk about the books. Enjoy reading as a delightful adventure, not a method of torture.
And remember, you can feel good about this.
You are doing the most important thing you can do to help your child fall in love with reading.
One More Baby Step
Two More Motivating Podcast Episodes:
Alice Ozma, The Reading Promise (The inspiring story of a girl whose dad read to her every day until she graduated high school!)
Charity Hawkins is the author of the real-life adventure book The Homeschool Experiment. She lives, writes, and reads to her kids (even when they are wiggly and dropping muffin crumbs) in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
P.S. Now that you know the importance of reading skills and reading aloud to your children. Would you like to hear more about this topic? Click HERE to get on the mailing list for more posts like this one, PLUS tools and freebies for making great readers!
- The Benefits of Reading With Your Child- From Prenatal to Adolescence (benefits of reading with your child)
- How Reading for Pleasure Helps Students Benefit Academically (benefits of reading for students in the classroom)
- 10 Benefits of Reading (great benefits of reading in general)
- New Guidelines From Pediatricians: Read to Your Babies (importance of reading to your child - research to support)
- How Reading Can Boost Your Child's Development (the effects of reading on child development)
- The Benefits of Reading to Your Newborn (benefits of reading to babies)
- Many Parents Failing to Read to Children, Study Shows (detrimental effects of not reading to your child)
- The Importance of Reading (PBS) (importance of reading skills for life)