THIS is the most important part of your homeschool day ~
Written by Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley
Did you know that reading aloud is the most important part of your entire homeschool day?
It almost seems too simple, doesn’t it? But reading aloud is one of the best things we can do for our children’s future academic success.
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Reading aloud has many benefits
When we read aloud to our children, tweens, and teens, we shower them with rich vocabulary, sophisticated language, and we help to grow their fund of factual information. This has a positive impact on academic achievement, but the benefits of reading aloud go far beyond academics.
When we open a book and read aloud to our children, we help to expand their worldview. As we share a story, our children put themselves in another’s shoes. They learn to take on different perspectives. This simple act of reading a story aloud can help our children to flex those all-important empathy muscles and to care for those around them.
Reading aloud also has a positive impact on family life. When we read-aloud to our children, we are connecting, sharing an experience, and making memories that will last a lifetime. We are also serving as reading role models. Children imitate what they see. We all want to raise curious, joyful, lifelong learners, don’t we? Well, guess what? If you love to read, you can teach yourself anything!
A simple read-aloud routine can transform your homeschool
A new homeschool year is starting and we all know this year has been a bit of a doozy! If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected.
Do you know what helps bring calm to chaos? Routines. Sometimes, we homeschool mamas tend to overthink all the things, but the best ideas are often the simplest ones.
This means it’s a great time to start a simple, sustainable read-aloud routine. That way, if 2020 throws more lemons our way, we will be able to accomplish the most important part of the homeschool day, even if it feels like we’re dropping all the other balls. How do I know this? Because I’ve lived it!
(Psst! If you’re struggling to create a read-aloud routine that you can stick with, keep reading because I have a surprise for you at the end of this post!)
Create a simple, sustainable read-aloud routine that honors your unique family
When we fell into the land of homeschooling, suddenly and unexpectedly, I relied heavily on my background in education and child development. I knew that, even if I dropped other balls, it would be crucial to read-aloud daily.
Early in our homeschool journey, we stumbled into a read-aloud routine that we now lovingly refer to as “Coffee and Books.” And it’s as simple as it sounds. I pour coffee and read books to my children, every single morning, while they eat breakfast.
Coffee and Books was born during a tricky homeschool season. It was unplanned and super simple. It was only later, in retrospect, that I realized we had created an important habit. That habit has grown into our most favorite homeschool tradition. Coffee and Books is the spine of our homeschool day and it has fueled so much learning.
But Coffee and Books has done so much more than that. It has helped us muddle through challenging seasons.
Homeschooling has its seasons and some are more challenging than others. When you’re in a challenging homeschool season, it feels really good to know you’re accomplishing the most important thing each day, even when everything else feels hard. (I’m looking at you, 2020!)
5 Tips for designing a simple, sustainable read-aloud routine
- Remember to keep it simple.
When September rolls around, we often find ourselves with all the motivation. It can be tempting to start several read-alouds, but you want to start small. Why? Because small is sustainable! Rather than thinking of reading aloud as this huge undertaking, why not aim for just ten minutes? This amounts to over an hour a week and that is significant! Start small and build from there!
- Time of day is an important factor to consider.
We are a family of morning people. We wake up on and it’s all downhill from there! Coffee and Books works well for our family, but it might not work for your family. Perhaps your family wakes up after lunch, and that’s okay! You could have hot cocoa and books at 3 pm, or maybe you’d prefer to read aloud just before dinner. The beauty of homeschooling is the flexibility to create routines that honor your unique family!
- Consider the ages and stages of your children.
It’s important to meet your children where they are, right now. If you have babies and toddlers, you will want to read in super small chunks sprinkled throughout the day. Older children can sit for longer periods. If you have a wide range of ages, you might consider reading to your littles while your bigs are still sleeping and then reading to your bigs when the littles nap. Or, you could read a picture book aloud to all of your children. Everyone benefits from read-aloud, regardless of age and reading level, and you never outgrow fantastic picture books!
- Remember the power of a captive audience.
Read-alouds can be frustrating at times. Children will wiggle and squirm and pepper you with endless, off-topic questions. One strategy to help with read-aloud woes is to use the power of a captive audience. This is why I read aloud to my children as they eat breakfast! Their hands and mouths are busy and their ears are available for listening. Other ideas include reading during bathtime and listening to delicious audiobooks in the car.
- Try to link your new routine to an existing habit.
It can be hard to start a new routine. One way to help solidify a new routine is to link it to a pre-existing habit. When we first started what we’d later refer to as Coffee and Books, I put a picture book by our coffee maker each evening. I wake up every morning and pour a cup of coffee, so leaving the book near the coffee was a perfect visual reminder and helped us to form a new habit.
As homeschool parents, we have the unique ability to preserve the sheer joy of reading for our children and, in doing so, we can raise joyful, lifelong readers and learners.
If you love to read, you can teach yourself anything! The sky is the limit!
Do you need support getting started?
If you want to create a super simple read-aloud routine that honors your unique family, one that will help you not just survive but thrive during even the most challenging homeschool seasons, I’ve created a course for you.
It’s called How to Rock THE MOST IMPORTANT PART of Your Homeschool Day.
How to Rock THE MOST IMPORTANT PART of Your Homeschool Day is a self-paced digital course that covers the many benefits of reading aloud, the types of readers, ages and stages of reading development, how to raise readers, how to cultivate a family reading environment, how to maximize your library card, how to document read-alouds, common stumbling blocks, and how to create a simple, sustainable read-aloud routine that works for your unique family. Each lesson includes a video, audio download, transcript, lesson handout, relevant links, and any related PDF downloads. Course members will also have access to an incredible resource library.
A simple read-aloud routine will help your family thrive during challenging homeschool seasons
This year has been a challenging one, but by creating a simple, sustainable read-aloud routine that honors your unique family, you’ll be able to accomplish the most important part of your homeschool day even on the trickiest of days.
Tell us: What does reading aloud look like in your homeschool? Share in the comments!
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Top Photo by Jess Bailey on Unsplash
Jen @ Bookish Family
In our home we love read alouds at morning time, read alouds during our homeschool lessons, 2 books going at lunch time all year long, whatever picture books I read to my two year old (or anyone else who asks) plus Shakespeare and Plutarch a few times a week and bedtime read alouds which my husband takes care of every night. It is a LOT of reading but it is something we all enjoy and benefit from!
Jen @ Bookish Family’s latest post: Quick baby update
Love all the reading you weave throughout your day, Jen!
I took your Coffee and Books advice several years ago after your first post about it and we still use it even though my kids are 8th and 10th graders this year! Doesn’t matter….they love read aloud still and say it’s their brain opener for the day. I took it a bit farther and we do Busy Hands and Books though…as they are teens they don’t often like to eat first thing after waking so they have to have an activity for their hands…wood carving, coloring mandalas, sketching birds out the window…simple things so they can still listen. Works great and then we have “Elevenses”…and I LOVE the fact that my kids actually know what that literary classic actually means 🙂
Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley
LOVE this, Shelly! I love the term “brain opener” – it’s so perfect! Good job keeping those hands busy!