As a busy mother, I often find it difficult to connect with each of my children in a way that will stand the test of time. You may probably think that by homeducating my children, and spending so many hours a day with them, connection will be the least of my problems. But the reality is that, same like any other parent out there, especially more so mothers, there is a whole household to tend to, food to make as well as the millions snacks, laundry to be folded and so much more. Life can truly feel constantly rushed and overfull.
However, one of the things that I have been doing for a few years that has helped me in bonding with my children even more , has been Read Alouds. I first heard about read alouds from a few classical homeschooling blogs, that I used to diligently follow a few years ago. So, what is a read aloud, you may ask. Whether you home educate or not, most likely you have certainly had this during your childhood- either at bed time when your mum/dad most likely read you a story or during school time, when your teacher would have gathered you all during circle time to read you a book.
From the time my children were babies I read aloud to them. We always had some sort of a basket of board books that we read throughout the day, some even have bite marks. It truly started their love of reading from an early age. We don’t do read alouds just at bed time- in fact most of time they happen either on our rug in our playroom or in our living room , while being all cosy on the sofas with blankets and pillows .
Our ” Read Alouds ” sessions have been through a lot of transformation, always changing and evolving, But one thing is for sure, I have always tried to do them , even if it is just ten minutes.
Last year, I read one of the most inspirational books on read alouds – ” The Read-Aloud Family” by Sarah Mackenzie and needless to say I was even more inspired and more determined to keep on having our Read Aloud sessions. As Sarah says : ” Reading aloud with our kids is indeed the best use of our time and energy as parents. It is more important than just about anything else we can do… These moments will live on in our children’s hearts even when our kids no longer live in our homes. These are moments we will never regret. “
There are so many benefits on reading aloud to your children- from establishing stronger connections to your kids even later in life when they are adults ,increased vocabulary and highly sophisticated language patterns, greater attention spans and listening abilities, associating reading for pleasure and so many more lifelong benefits . Research suggests that , “Adults who report being read to often as children are more likely to love reading as adults. Children who are read to regularly are more likely to report high incomes and academic success in adulthood”.
I am sharing below a few tips that I have learned from the Read Aloud Family Book and have been a game changer in how I have been doing them with my children :
- Do not stop reading for your children as soon as they can read for themselves– This is probably one of the biggest mistakes that we as parents can make. With read alouds, you can choose a book higher than your child’s level , which he/she may not have necessarily chosen to read because he may have been put off by the long phrases and sentences. Continue reading to them even if they are in secondary school. If you want to raise a reader, do not rely on your child’s school. In his Book 2 ” Raising Kids who read”, Dr Daniel Willingham writes ” It is up to the parents to create and atmosphere where a child’s life can flourish “
- Read alouds do not have to be at bedtime– As mentioned above, we personally do a lot of our read alouds in the morning straight after breakfast and sometimes even during breakfast or while having lunch. They can be done at any time of the day. For school children especially , read alouds can be a great way to connect to your child before they head off to school. I often find my kids can be quite tired in the evening, so hence the main reason why I try to do them during the day.
- Read alouds are not meant to be quiet with your children sitting still– in fact this is probably one of the biggest myths. There are so many studies that show ” that for many children, actively engaging with their hands helps them listen better. Give them something to do with their hands and their brains are suddenly free to focus and learn. ” Your children can be drawing , colouring, painting, knitting, even making cartwheels ( that’s what one of my children loves doing ). Interestingly, Dr Gurian mentions., that ” for some kids, information can go deeper into their brains when the child physically moves around “
- Read alouds do not have to last 1 hour– it can be as little as ten minutes and let’s face it , we can all find a spare ten minutes. If you read for ten minutes, not even every day, but every other day, this equals to 35 minutes per week ! What’s important to remember, as Sarah Mackenzie says is ” You just need to do a little bit of it over a long stretch of time. It all adds up “. And it certainly does !
- Use various means of reading forms– you don’t have to always read to your children. Remember, audiobooks count too and in fact this way you will be able to include even more reading aloud than you could do otherwise. My children are big fans of audio books – we have an Audible subscription, as well as borrowing audio books from the library too.
- Choose different style of books– they don’t always have to be classics and this is really important to remember. Do not limit your children to certain books . As Sarah writes ” Light books count. Hard books count. Current bestsellers count. Classics count. They all have their place in the tapestry of a child’s reading life.“
- Do not have an idyllic vision of how read alouds should take place – I will certainly tell you how our read alouds look like- more or less 90% of the time Loud, Messy and Noisy. There is honestly nothing peaceful or idyllic- someone is either arguing because they do not want to sit on that particular chair or kicking another sibling’s leg under the table.
But as Sarah says ” Even when it is noisy , messy and more chaotic that you would like it to be, it works. Even when kids are grumbling, complaining and don’t seem to be listening, it works. When we read alouds to our kids, in spite of the fact that it looks much different from our initial vision, we are stepping out in faith…. When idealistic visions pop into your head, when you find yourself thinking about that Instagram post by mom, whose kids appear perfectly content to listen to her read a classic for hours, stop yourself. Shut down the idealistic visions, because when you are reading aloud, even when it looks imperfect, you are going all in. And you will never regret it. It is worth it, because it looks like living and loving and going all in. “
8. A read aloud lifestyle is not going to happen by accident- we as parents, whether you home educate or no, have to be intentional in making read alouds part of our family life.
9 ) Have an intentional and/or organic conversation with your children – once you finish your book, why not talk about it and discuss some of the things that you loved or may be hated about the book. Do not make it a test- resist the urge to do a comprehension work on every book that you have read to your child and trying to test if they have understood it. Try an easygoing and friendly approach. As Sarah reminds us beautifully: ” We want our homes to be more like a cozy book club environment and less like a formal experience . Make asking questions and having conversations as frequent and natural as asking your kids how their day went. Do not worry too much about whether their answers are profound. Instead, focus on helping your child develop a habit of asking questions.
10 ) Enjoy Read Alouds– Read aloud time is not meant to be stressful or something t be ticked off the list. Do it because it brings you and your children joy . If you aren’t enjoying a particular book, ditch it and start a new one. Remember, that the most important thing is to cultivate in your children a deep love of stories, so even when you are gone , they are still reading and they have those fond memories of you reading aloud to them, for them perhaps may be to do this one day with their own children too ?
I hope you found these tips helpful. I really cannot recommend enough ” The Read aloud family ” by Sarah Mackenzie, whether you home educate or not, you will certainly find it so insightful and helpful. So this year’s World Book Day, instead of spending money on a children’s outfit, that they will mots likely wear once, why don’t you invest in your family by learning more on how to create a Read Aloud environment. As Sarah says ” It’s never too late to begin reading aloud. Wherever you are, whatever age your kids might be, today is the best day to start reading with your children .”
This post is in collaboration with a few other inspirational bloggers, as part of a blog hop for World Book Day, who are all sharing various aspects of reading- book recommendations , as well as tips. So, do have have a read at their tips, reviews and advice:
- Multicultural Motherhood shares: We’re going on a Bear Hunt Sensory Time.
- Ilma Ed shares a book review: Fatimah’s First Fasting Day.
- Knowledge Dunes shares: 4 Reasons Why We Should Read Aloud with Our Kids at Bedtime.
- Fragile Vessel shares a book review: Cactus Hotel.
- Umm Afraz shares a book review: Loudmouth Line and Decent Dot.
- Jeddah Mom shares: How to find time to read with your children everyday.
- Our Amanahs Our Future: A Sensory Story With Walters Wonderful We
- Muslim Mummy shares some great advice on how to encourage your child to read : Tips for encouraging your child to read
- The Odd Muslimah shares book reviews: It’s Jummah Day” and “The Butterfly Refugee.
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