One of the benefits of homeschooling is that you can give your children an individualised approach to their learning. It still needs to fit within the scope and priorities of your family (of which they are a part) but their unique learning styles and interests can be taken into account.
Intentional reading is a part of our family way though each of my children has needed help with this in different ways. It is time to refresh myself and revamp our procedures with a focus on Nomi and Daniel.
My objective is for each child to have a reading list that is broad in its subject matter; where each book is quality reading and valuable for learning. Each day we are to have a reading time which is concluded with taking notes, summarising or copywork in a reading journal. When a child reaches the end of a book, I expect the title to be filled in their reading log. I also want them to come and discuss the book with me, then go and write a report, essay, creative project or lapbook (or any such representation) on topic learnt from the book. This assignment becomes their morning writing assignment and they move onto a new book.
I set a reading list – a short list of titles under each category of learning. The child can choose from that short list. As my children have grown older, and have been responsible with this process they have been more involved in the initial choosing of titles. But for Nomi I will be choosing their short list and she can go on from there, for Daniel I will be giving him his titles (no choice at this stage).
In the past I have used these different categories, expecting the children to read across this variety and not get stuck just reading one particularly area of study:
- History – the study of man
- Science – the study of God’s world
- Australian History
- Literature / Classics
- Christian Reading – doctrine or ‘self-improvement’ type books (interpersonal/intrapersonal)
- World View – understanding the world from God’s perspective
- Other – just in case some other topic comes up!
The children also have recreational titles that they choose for themselves though these books are not to be read in our ‘reading time’ but rather in their discretionary/free time. We also have family read aloud time which expands their exposure to literature as well. I make room for both these categories on their reading log.
The children’s intentional reading list is in addition to other lessons they undertake. For example, at the moment Nomi is studying Shakespeare, the Human Body as well as a book from her reading list. Jessica is studying Graphic Arts, the Human Body as well as a couple of books from her reading list.
One of the reasons I am ‘revamping’ this is that I don’t feel it has been working very well. Nomi and Daniel are being too emotive in their book choices (they read what they feel like reading) and I am not prepared enough to redirect them. They don’t have a reading log happening and they struggle with the reading journal idea. We are also inconsistent with making reading time happen after lunch.
The next few weeks will be Reading Time Bootcamp. The idea of bootcamp is that it is intensive training for a short period of time – it is all about developing new habits. It requires self-discipline and consequences. It means that we put aside specific time to get this training done. It needs the trainer (me) to be on the job and focused.
Last week I carefully took note of all that happened in our afternoons. Initially I thought we were not doing afternoons particularly well, but by really observing what was going on, the real trouble point is that we are not spending any time in reading and that has always been a priority thought for me. So we don’t need to revamp the whole afternoon, we just need to reinstate reading time. Here is my plan to get this done:
- No DVD over lunch – use a timer to keep lunch time tight. It is all too easy to start to relax at lunch time, and yet there are still things that need to be done. Our afternoon slides if lunch takes too long.
- Switch chore time to after reading time.
- I need to sit and read during this time as well
- At the end of reading time, I will encourage journaling and be available to anyone who needs help.
- Before next week I need to draw up a reading list for both Nomi and Daniel (they will look different than each other) and create a reading log for them both.
- I’ve blogged about bootcamp before as I’ve trained my children in various things.
- My friend Susan, from Kerugma blogged a week or so ago about her Family Bootcamp.
- My daughter, Jessica has blogged about her reading log
Thanks for this post you’;ve given me fresh impetus to re-vamp our own sagging reading program. The trouble is more one of my teens is very narrow in his reading choices. Yes I do select and then he never reads… what to do?? I’ve involved him but he just never gets there. re dvd’s I’ve always noted when I crack down on the screen time reading does go up immensely, otherwise the boys in particular go for the screen.
btw I’ve just found your blog, enjoying your thoughts immensely:)
Hi Erin. I’ve just shared these thoughts with my children – setting the stage. Even though they are onboard, it is really going to come down to me making sure we make the time. With your teen with narrow reading choices, if it is important to you and you can give him a reason why it is important to you, then you set the framework for 1/2 hour – 1 hour, and this is the only book you read during that time. You may have to expect at least a chapter to be read or whatever so that he doesn’t just sit there – if you have a particular output required you can extend the time until that is done – his choice of how long it is going to take him. This of course will need to be tweaked to fit your family, and the particular teen reading ability etc. But bottom line is – while they are resistant to the things that we hold as important – it means no choice for them, and structure for us to make sure it happens.
Just a thought on the purpose of a wide reading exposure. My husband has had little to say about the education of the kids – he has delegated the specifics mostly to me, but he has made comment that he wanted his children to have a broad general knowledge. He feels that a broad general knowledge makes you a better conversationalist and it is important that we can talk to people of all places and backgrounds. So that is our purpose for variety in our reading (mind you some people would still say we are narrow – but there is variety to a degree!!).
Thanks for dropping by.
My teens biggest issue is time, he really struggles to get it all done and yet I don’t think it too erroneous. I think there may be a processing issue but never checked it out. But then again, if I can just get him to read the first chapter he is hooked.
My husband says the same as yours!! He wants them to have a good general education, with room for strengths.
Have you thought of reading the first chapter to him and letting him take over once he is into it?
Oh hey I do that sometimes, but he is 16 now so not always so keen.
Hello! Was wondering how you choose your books…..recommendations, internet search etc…?? My boys are avid readers and I really struggle to keep them in books. Our local library is quite limited and I’ve even resorted to buying a Kindle, although as it is new my boys have yet to use it. Would love any tips!!
Beth in South Africa
Hi Beth – finding books is indeed tricky! I have bought most of our books online and other than the fact that I had an upbringing appreciating good books, I have used these resources to help me:
* Honey for a Child’s Heart and Honey for a Teen’s Heart as guides though I don’t agree with everything in there, these books are great reviews and book list
* Sonlight – though I am using some of their student guides now, for many years I just used their catalogue as a great book list
* “Charlotte Mason twaddle free book list” – I used to Google this and come up with ideas that I mostly trusted.