A Day In the Life of Mom is happy to have a Guest Post from Author Fiona Ingram.
Helping Children Read Better Through Homeschooling
Parents give many reasons why they prefer to home school their kids: better academic test results, unhealthy school environment, improved character/morality development, and objections to what is taught in the school syllabus. However, home schooling cannot be undertaken lightly. Parents need to be dedicated and may have to sacrifice two incomes for one because one parent must take on the schooling task. The benefits can be enormous, and include better bonding with kids, being able to monitor their academic progress, and sharing the joy of reading, obviously the cornerstone of any schooling program.
Reading and Children
Reading is one of the hardest aspects of learning because kids must love reading to benefit. What many parents don’t realize is that enjoyment of reading is not automatic; it is learned by association. When a parent reads with a child, that feeling of togetherness, that special time, creates in the child a sense of enjoyment that they then associate with reading, and thus as they grow up, reading is associated with pleasure.
Homeschooling and Reading Tips
Here the home school parent can really ‘get stuck in’ with loads of novel and fun ideas that transform reading from a chore to the best activity imaginable. It can be disappointing when your child expresses absolutely no interest in reading. However, you can change that by coming up with new and interesting ways to ‘package’ the art of reading. Reading is a skill, just like any other skill. It must be introduced, nurtured, and developed. Children don’t enjoy what they can’t do. When reading is difficult, they shy away from even coming near a book. Home schooling a reluctant reader will require your participation and encouragement every step of the way. However, as a home schooling parent, you have the opportunity and flexibility to embark on interesting, creative and fun ways to help your child read better.
- A good way to begin is to assess your child’s reading level. If it’s below par, then that’s one reason why he or she isn’t keen on books. Have your child read a page or two from a variety of books they might enjoy. Make a list of the words they find easy/hard/not understood. Once you have an idea of their level, based on vocabulary skills, then you can move forward. In fact, to build your child’s confidence, perhaps begin with a book for a younger age. Your child will skim through it, feeling proud at having finished and understood it, and you can offer praise by saying, “Look how easily you managed that! Shall we try something else?”
- A book can appear quite a formidable object to a non-reader. Begin small. Start with a thinner book and say, “I bet we’ll finish this quickly.” Then let your child read the book in bite-sized pieces. Don’t try for ten pages—read only four or five pages. Your child will feel this is not a huge task after all.
- Reading aloud is something that all parents should do, regardless of children’s age. Most children really love that special time when Mom or Dad comes in to say good night. You can say, “Hey! I’ve got something really exciting here. Want to hear some?” Anything to delay turning off the light, your child will say (of course) “Yeah!” You can make this session into something memorable by acting the parts and using your Repertoire of Funny Voices, but more importantly, stop at an exciting point, just when the hero is about to be plunged into mortal danger. Close the book and say, “Gosh! I hope he survives. We’ll have to wait until tomorrow to find out.” Generally, no kid can go to sleep without confirming their hero is indeed still alive…
- Praise and admiration boost a child’s confidence. You can do this by letting friends and family members know just how well your child is doing. “It’s amazing how many pages (child’s name) is reading every day now!” Soonyour child will be the one to suggest reading. Use the time together to understand your child’s thought processes, and structure the book choices around what really sparks their interest.
- Get your child their own library card and encourage them to begin choosing their own material, based on what captures their interest. Buying book vouchers instead of other kinds of gifts will encourage your child to start building their ‘own’ collection of cherished books.
- Since home schooling allows for greater leeway in teaching, ring the changes by taking the classroom outside. If it’s a lovely summer’s day, find a spot under a tree, or a comfortable place in the garden, and read aloud together outside with a picnic. If it’s cold and rainy, this is the perfect time to sit in front of a fire (or heater), make hot drinks and a few snacks, snuggle under some cozy blankets and read something exciting, maybe an adventure set on the high seas, or in a frozen land.
- There’s nothing like family fun, so invest in some board games involving words (Scrabble, of course, being the perennial favorite) and make up Team Dad and Team Mom, or rope in willing relatives to help swell the numbers.
- Going on a trip somewhere? Perhaps the academic syllabus includes some natural history, a national park or wildlife area, or a visit to a museum? Research beforehand will become fun as kids hate not knowing things or feeling left out or being the one who doesn’t know what’s going on. Once at your destination, make sure to find opportunities for reading, such as information signs, historical details, anything that involves words, depending on your chosen location. Of course, once back at home, this is a golden opportunity for them to write down, draw and describe what they have experienced, maybe as a project to share with an elderly relative who could not come with.
Reading involves words, but not just words on a page. Make words part of your child’s life in the most entertaining way and you’ll set them on the path to a bright future.