The following is a guest post by Joy Cherrick of Scottsdale Moms Blog.
Reading time in our home started off as a bit of a chore for me. Though I love cuddling up with my little ones on the couch, I’d rather be cleaning up a mess or fixing a meal or attending to the baby or otherwise checking something off of my list.
However, when I first looked into a preschool curriculum for our homeschool, I found that every educational philosophy took me back to the basics: reading to my children with a heavy helping of play.
I looked hard for a curriculum with worksheets or some other measurable task to check off; but reading a book was always at the basis of every list and every educational philosophy that I encountered.
And so, I submitted myself to what the research says works best. I grabbed my glass of water and rounded up my wiggly preschoolers for some good old-fashioned read-aloud fun with mom.
As I mentioned, it didn’t start off as an easy thing for me to do. My mouth would get dry and my voice would tire. But I’ve found books that I enjoy and have developed a stamina for reading for as long as an hour! And I’ve been surprised and thrilled by what Reagan (4-and-a-half) and Elliot (2-and-a-half) have learned about the world just through reading!
And what have they learned, you ask?
They have learned about new places
I started reading Betsy Books by Carolyn Haywood to my daughter, Reagan, when she was just 3-and-a-half and was very surprised at how much she loved them and learned from the stories and characters.
Even though she’s never been to school, nor does she have friends who go to school, she plays school!
These darling books take place in real life settings, and Reagan has learned so much about places she’s never been in real life but has experienced with her new friend, Betsy!
Elliot, is our little cowboy and lover of cars. We have the book Cowboy Small by Louis Lenski and have read it dozens and dozens of times.
We recently went to a horse farm and Elliot pointed and said, “There’s the corral!” Next he wanted to feed the horses “oats and hay,” which is exactly what Cowboy Small feeds his horse.
They’ve learned new vocabulary words
Recently, we read Charlotte’s Web with Reagan. At lunch one day, Reagan announced that she would like to live on a farm and have some animals.
I asked, “What animals would you like to have on your farm?” She replied with, “Oh, just some pigs and chickens and horses. I will go out and slop the pigs!”
Really?! I thought. She had picked up on the vocabulary of what a pig eats!
As for Elliot, he was very early to recite his ABCs. One day, when being quizzed by a Grandma, he surprised us all that he knew all his letters by sight! It’s still a mystery to me how at two he learned so much, but I can only attribute it to how much we read.
They learn about how to treat others
The stories we read have characters who get into all sorts situations. When a character is being unkind or, when there is a misunderstanding between characters, we have the opportunity to discuss what the character should or should not do. (Such as the Ugly Duckling or the Step-sisters in Cinderella.)
At such young ages, I’m amazed at their capacity to reason and understand the story.
Reagan frequently interrupts my reading to ask, “Why did she do that,” or state, “He shouldn’t do that; he should say that he’s sorry.”
I’m able to learn about her sensitive heart, and I get to ask her what she thinks the character should do.
My two-year old is thinking a bit less deeply. When we were reading the story of David and Goliath, at the part where Goliath calls out, “And who shall fight me?” Elliot jumps out with his invisible sword and declares, “I will fight him!”
Ah, my great protector.
Perhaps it’s silly that this book-to-life learning in my children takes me by surprise, but it does. I wonder what they pick up out of our reading time.
One thing is certain, I can’t control what they learn, what they fall in love with or what questions the stories will entice them to ask.
I can only lead them to meet great characters and see great places, together.
How about you? What have your kids learned from the books they read?