Sometimes it seems impossible to achieve all the many things we want to accomplish in our children’s educations. It’s a daunting process–ensuring you are teaching them the best way, the best topics, the best preparation for the real world. One way you can’t go wrong is by making literature an important part of your homeschool. As far as I’m concerned, any kind of literature, from the classics to the modern, the literary to the comedy. Classics and literary books teach language and grammar, history and creativity. Modern books can help your littles learn to navigate the complex world we live in (even funny books can do that). Whatever they’re reading, just be sure they’re reading. It may seem like one more task to heap on your already full plate, but here are 4 easy ways to fit it in every single day.
1. READ ALOUD TOGETHER
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times, reading aloud together benefits your kids at all ages. You can read aloud to them, which lets them relax and really put their imaginations to work. You can have them read to you, which helps them learn to pronounce words correctly, sound out unfamiliar words, and get comfortable with some aspects of pubic speaking. You can do both. It’s completely up to you. We read a chapter a day aloud together here at Lit Mama, and we kind of mix it up. Some days the boys take turns reading alternating pages, some days I read to them, and some days all three of us alternate. I don’t intend to take reading aloud out of our curriculum until they’ve graduated. It is a time during our school day that is almost outside everything else. We are transported to another world, have discussions that don’t feel like learning, and get to focus on being together. Some days we read aloud in our classroom, some days we cuddle up on the couch for reading. It’s probably our favorite time of the homeschool day.
2. ASSIGN PARTICULAR BOOKS FOR YOUR CHILDREN TO READ ON THEIR OWN
Another way I make sure they get plenty of reading in is to assign them extracurricular books each year. They have a specified time in which to read them, then they have to give me a book report. Then it’s on to the next book. This has worked so well that they have both begun to read novels well beyond their ‘grade level’ (whatever that is) on their own. On top of their assigned books and the book we are reading aloud in class. Makes me one proud mama!
3. ASSIGN A SPECIFIC AMOUNT OF TIME FOR DAILY READING
You can end your school day with half an hour of required reading. Or 15 minutes. Or an hour. You know your kids best, you know how long they’ll be able to sit still. Always add five minutes to that number. It teaches patience. This will not only keep them reading, it might give you the time to finish the dishes. Or check your email. Or close your eyes and breathe. The Littles are allowed to read their assigned books whenever they want, so long as they finish them within the allotted time. You can bet your boots I had this idea on standby, though, in case they blew it off.
4. USE LIVING BOOKS IN YOUR CURRICULUM
Living books are simply books that teach in a more conversational way than texts. They often come across more like stories than factual material, but they are, indeed, full of facts about the subject. You can go over to Simply Charlotte Mason for a list of hundreds of living books separated by topic, or you can troll your own library for books that are both fictional and factual. I hate to harp on Charles Dickens again (okay, no I don’t), but A Tale of Two Cities is a great resource for the French Revolution. You might be surprised at how many novels are also teachers. Watership Down is full of real information about rabbits. The Wind in the Willows teaches about river wildlife. Catching on? Yeah, that’s the stuff. That is definitely the good stuff.
MAKE SURE THEY ARE REALLY READING
There are several ways you can do this. Have them keep a simple reading log. Have them write book reports, like I do. The Littles have to write them in essay form now, but I made up a book report form that they had to fill out in past years. It’s available as a free download on my Freebies page (scroll to the bottom; I swear, it’s there!). You could also use a blank notebooking template and have them notebook their books as they read. Any of these suggestions will not only show you that they’re reading, but help them more fully comprehend what they’re reading about.
Here’s the thing. You know I crush on literature more than anything else in the world. That is because I fully believe that no matter how educated I am through schools, nothing I learned in college or anywhere else compares to what I’ve learned from being a lifelong reader. Engender that in your littles, and you will have given them the greatest gift imaginable–the ability to think intelligently and speak with knowledge.
Now That is the stuff.
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