Raising Readers

You might say that my kids like to read. Check out these pictures!

Hanging out at home:

Alone in their rooms:

Reading with siblings:

Even reading with friends who come over to “play”

So people often ask me–“How do you get your kids to read so much?”

Here’s my secret:

1) Parenting

Trelease’s Read Aloud Handbook is a parents’ guide (now being used as a teachers’ textbook by many colleges) that helps turn kids into avid readers, even if they are currently T.V.-addicted or unmotivated! Once we implemented his advice and strategies in our home–from nightly readings and strategic book-placings in the home to the more scientific “how to discuss books with kids in a way that makes them want to read more”–we noticed a huge change in our family as our children gravitated away from the television and towards books!

2) Education

From Bauer’s book The Well-Trained Mind, we learned how children of the past were taught–you know, the kids who devoured books like they were candy, back in the days before television. Whether you are a homeschooler, or just a parent wanting to enhance their child’s public education, the Well-Trained Mind is THE must-have guide for how to instill a love of learning and a passion for books in your child.

3) Activities

If your child struggles with reading comprehension, try using these Writing With Ease worksheets, which help enhance a child’s reading abilities through writing! This ingenious book takes sentences and paragraphs from classic children’s literature and asks students to read, respond to, copy, or put into their own words the things that they read. This easy-to-use program (small, 5-minute exercises!) introduces so many great books to my children that I am constantly driving to the library to feed my daughters’ “hey–I want to read that book, too!” requests after each lesson. I HIGHLY recommend these worksheets to any parent whose child struggles with reading or is not motivated to read.

Advertisements

Eco-Friendly and Organized

I’ve always wanted an organized school room like this or this. But let’s face it–all those plastic bins and synthetic materials are NOT earth-friendly, and definitely NOT conducive to the cozy, organic learning atmosphere that I’m trying to build.

Here’s a snapshot of the two spaces we use most in our homeschool.

First, the homeschool corner of my kitchen, where I keep the school books we use most often:

Note the earthy, non-plastic feel of this room, thanks to all-natural materials. Stays organized, too, thanks to the woven baskets and cupboard doors, which hide the messier stuff (pens, pencils, crayons, scissors, glue, etc).

Here is our family room, where a system of wooden built-ins serves as our “library.” I keep all of our “messier” stuff (coloring books, puzzles, games, flashcards, etc) behind those small doors underneath the shelves, to help keep that “messy” schoolroom look to a minimum:

Then I leave the rest of the room open (no coffee tables) and full of comfy furniture to make it an inviting place to curl up with a book. Interestingly enough, companies like Barnes & Noble also offer cozy chairs and sofas in their stores.

Why?

Because when people are comfortable, they’re more likely to read! In other words: cold, plastic-and-metal decor doesn’t sell books (and it won’t sell your kids on reading them, either).

Organized School Room Hall of Fame:

(note: some of these use plastics, but I like to envision them with earth-friendly containers, instead!)

The classiest homeschool room: http://theprettyneatcompany.blogspot.com/2009/10/home-school-room.html

Most fashionable school room: http://lifeoncountyroad39.blogspot.com/2009/07/homeschool-room-ideas.html

Most innovative locale (the loft!): http://satorismiles.com/homeschool-room-photos/learning-loft/

Best homeschool room for online learners: http://www.mingleovermocha.com/2009/06/our-homeschool-room.html

Best use of a small space: http://unclutterer.com/2009/08/14/workspace-of-the-week-home-school-room/

Best use of an old entertainment center (recycling!): http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/Tiany/115667/

Best mom’s room/kids’ room combo: http://allistamps.blogspot.com/2009/06/my-new-stamp-roomhomeschool-room.html

GRAND PRIZE WINNER–THE PRETTIEST, COZIEST, MOST FUNCTIONAL, BEST-EVER HOMESCHOOL ROOM OF *ALL TIME:

http://satorismiles.com/2009/07/20/library-reading-room/

____________________________

*Second runner-up: http://mommymattersblog.com/2009/07/designing-homeschool-classroom.html

History or Social Studies?

Did you know that most schools teach Social Studies, instead of history? Here’s why:

“A common assumption found in history curricula seems to be that children can’t comprehend (or be interested in) people and events distant from their own experience. So first-grade history class is renamed Social Studies and begins with what the child knows: first, himself and his family, followed by his community, his state, his country, and only then the rest of the world.

This intensely self-focused pattern of study encourages the student of history to relate everything he studies to himself, to measure the cultures and customs of other people against his own experience. And that’s exactly what the classical education fights against–a self-absorbed, self-referential approach to knowledge. History learned this way makes our needs and wants the center of the human endeavor. This attitude is destructive at any time, but it is especially destructive in the present global civilization.” —Susan Wise Bauer, The Well-Trained Mind (p. 108, emphasis in bold is mine).

Here is a copy of Dizzy’s recent history assignment–a report on ancient Crete:

Are public school kids learning about ancient civilizations in the 3rd grade? If not, their parents should consider these fun history learning and activity books:

Here’s a sample learning activity from Volume 2 of this series (middle ages)–

Thanks to the Story of the World series, my children not only enjoy learning about history, but they also do history projects and read history books in their spare time. In fact, our daughter Prima requested a series of history books for Christmas! But more about that after December 25th . . .