I’ve been doing some homeschool evaluation lately. It seemed like a good time because, well, the New Year, and because with our wonky homeschool schedule Peanut is within a few weeks of finishing up his kindergarten curriculum (we’ve already moved on to first grade work in math) so I’m seeing what’s been working, what hasn’t been working and what will change as we transition to first grade. Additionally, we’ll be adding a student to our humble little homeschool in August when Boohoo hits mandatory kindergarten age. She’s a totally different learner (and person) than Peanut so I’m doing what homeschool allows me to do and individualizing her curriculum so we get the best fit possible. Let’s also not downplay the fact that since I’ll add a kindergartner every year for the first three years we homeschool that there will be a lot of changes! lol
The first issue that was glaringly obvious to me, was that we weren’t spending enough time reading. Yes, we use Sonlight, which is a literature based curriculum, and I’d read to the kids here and there throughout the day and I’d try to read while they were eating, and we were pretty good about bedtime reading, but I wanted more! I want quantity AND quality though. When my kids are adults I want them to remember a childhood spent cuddled up (sometimes we settle for nonviolently nearby) with a stack of books and covered in blankets. I also want a chance to be able to teach them all simultaneously when possible and I’ve been reading up on Circle Time from Preschoolers and Peace.
To combat this unacceptability, I declared this The Year of the Book. First up, we instituted Morning Reading Time. It started as 30 minutes straight of me reading aloud, all bodies and brains required to be present. I kept track for a week and we read forty books altogether all together.
Morning Reading Time has been the biggest change right off the bat, but I’ve gotten stricter with myself about making sure we read at other times too (including me!) because really, if my kids go out of this house loving and serving Jesus and loving and learning from books then I’m going to pat myself on the back…and sit down with my feet up for the next eighteen years.
Our Not Official Until I Typed It Out Reading Schedule on ideal days goes like this:
- During breakfast I read our Bible story. We finished My First Message and are reading through Egermeier’s Storybook Bible. 10-15 minutes
- Morning Reading Time 30 minutes reading (usually not “school books”)
- During lunch I read for 15-20 minutes…this is when I read the read-alouds from Sonlight that everyone will enjoy like the poetry, the James Herriot Treasury, “The House at Pooh Corner”, and the other lighter selections that they’ve included in Core A.
- During naptime I am
forcing myselftrying hard to make it to each child individually and spend 5-10 minutes reading to them alone. Peanut gets probably 15-20 minutes depending on what we’re reading for school, sometimes we get this done during the regular day by letting “the babies” watch a Leapfrog DVD. Right now we’re reading “The BFG”. When I’m reading to Pickle and Boohoo it’s still mostly storybooks. Pickle is in the long picture book phase and early chapter books like “Frog and Toad”, “Nate the Great”, and “Magic Treehouse”. He loves to be read to and loves his nonfiction selections as well. Boohoo is still filling up on easier picture books like the “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” books, “The Hungry Caterpillar”, and Little Critter books and some boardbooks still. I’m reading them over and over and over and over again and she’s starting to remember and being able to fill in words and answer basic questions.
- There’s no official afternoon reading time it’s just per request. I do try to sit down myself while the kids are playing with a book because I haven’t been reading that much lately either! I also don’t read at dinner. Peanut does have required minutes of reading for school and he’ll do that in the afternoons often. Right now, he has to read for 15 minutes out loud and probably the time that Boohoo starts her schooling with us I’ll be transitioning him to having independent reading time, starting with 15 minutes and working our way up.
- Bedtime reading is by bedroom so for Boohoo it’s very much the same as naptime. The boys are together though and it can be a little tricky to find books that they both like (except for Magic Treehouse, which I do NOT like to read aloud) without Peanut thinking it’s babyish or Pickle being a little left out. They both loved “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” but when I tried “The BGF” Pickle was scared so that’s a Peanut-only book now. It ends up being about 15-20 minutes per room.
All in all, that makes about two hours a day that I’m reading out loud (when we get it all in, which obviously we don’t always) and I’m happy with that considering the ages of my kids. How about you? How much reading out loud do you? How do you combine ages? What would you read to a 4 AND 6 year old boy?