I love the idea of sitting around reading a book with my kids.    I have fond memories of my folks doing this when we were kids.    When we started our homeschooling journey I expected that reading aloud would be what we did.  All of us huddled around a book, discussing it, learning from it.

 

Over the years I have struggled with not being able to fit this into our days.  Whether that was that our schedule really was too tight or I wasn’t placing it as a priority – either way it never happened.  

 

I have had various feelings over this – sometimes I have felt bad, as I know it is a good thing to do – both for educational purposes but also for family time.  Sometimes I have felt determined to do it but failed as I nod asleep with each word. 

 

But there has always been this deep-seated admiration for families who read together for hours a day.   It bothered me so much that we weren’t achieving this that I had to stop and evaluate why.  Really, I could achieve most things that I set out to do, so why not reading aloud?  I came to the conclusion that I didn’t want our learning to be centred on reading aloud books – I wanted the children to read for hours of their day, individually.  

 

Well that made sense as to why we can’t fit it in – one lesson I have learnt is that you can’t do everything you read about – you have to know what you want to achieve, and how you are going to achieve it and let other things, good things, go.  There are consequences to our beliefs, or values, or decisions.  We don’t have time to take on doing things based on someone else’s decisions.

 

Knowing that I wanted the kids to learn from their own reading and not from family read alouds has freed me up so much.  I stopped feeling guilty.  I was clear as to how I wanted them to learn and gave them the time to do so.  But ….. I still really really wanted to have that memory of us all excited, waiting for the next chapter of a book.

 

I am now seeing our family read alouds as family entertainment.   What fun!  I have had to tweak around with different times – I am still prone to falling asleep in the middle of a sentence if I read aloud at lunch time.  I had to find a time that was consistent.  The evening dinner table works for us.   I often read while the kids eat their dessert (that makes no dessert for me!!)

 

A few weeks ago I was challenged that if we were spending so much time reading and so much money on books to read I should have a plan as to which books were valuable, important enough for us to spend our time with.   I have written up lists of books for various subjects; some we have on our shelves, some we can get from the library system and some we will have to buy.  One of these lists is for our read aloud books.  The benefit of this was that when we finished our last book on Sunday,  I knew what book to go and get next.  There was no opportunity to miss a night of reading because I was ready with the next book.  This was exciting for us as a family as it hadn’t happened before!

 

So last night we set out to read our next book,  “Winnie the Pooh”.  I had never read Pooh Bear as a kid though I am familiar with Disney’s versions.  What a delight… It was hard to put down at one chapter.  But the real buzz for me was the kids roaring with laughter, and the 6yo copying (as he really didn’t get the clever use of words), the kids playing around with those words when we were finished, the kids acting out poor old Pooh with his arms stuck up in the air for a week!

 

This is what I want from family read alouds – family laughter, family memories, family fun.  And who is to know but we might learn as well!

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