When my husband and I first started talking about our goals for homeschooling — we came up with a very short list. That list is what I am using as the basis for this series called “Homeschooling Essentials.” We started with a love for God and the first post in this series was how Bible is a Homeschooling Essential in our home. Today we are talking about reading strategies because our next goal is getting our kids to love to read.
We Want our Kids to Love Jesus, Love to Read and Love to Learn!
That’s the bottom line and the heart of our homeschooling essentials list. Learning to love reading can be tricky though. Reading doesn’t come naturally to all students, does it?
We used to think it would be a piece of cake. But with six kids, we were bound to have some sense knocked into us, don’t you think? Whether your children struggle with reading or not, there are some things you can do to help your child love reading so much that they are willing to work really hard if they have to in order to read.
I am so happy to report that one of my children, who really struggled to read, now spends hours every day reading with gusto! It can happen. We’ve used all of these reading strategies in our home.
How Can you Encourage Young Children to Love Reading? (Before They Can Read!)
Read to your young children daily. I know, it’s hard. Especially with big kids clamoring for attention — but you can do it! In fact, assign that job to the big kids if you have to!
Listen to audio books in the car. This is a big one for us because for a lot of years, reading aloud to my kids just hasn’t been physically possible. My voice comes and goes, but the audiobooks in our car are a standard regardless. Start young, and your kids will learn to love audiobooks and love stories.
I’ll never forget the year we got my husband hooked on audio books. We were listening to The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder, read by Cherry Jones. It is an amazing book, and Cherry does an absolutely amazing job reading the entire series.
Have your little ones look at picture books on their own. We have times when I say, “Everybody go get four books.” The little ones sit on the couch quietly and look through the picture books while I fix supper or fold laundry. It settles them down, and pretty soon you hear them quietly whispering a story to themselves. We do this at bedtime too; they can always look through a few books before I turn off the lights.
Model reading. Seriously, this is important! When is the last time you read a good book all by yourself, for the pure love of it? That’s what your kids need to see you doing. A few of my all-time favorites include Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss, Under the Overpass by Mike Yankoski, and A Chance to Die by Elisabeth Elliot. Pick a book up at the library and get started!
What are the Best Books You’ve Read Together?
One of the best reading strategies is to pick great books, and read them together. Now I know everyone has a list of favorite books on their blog. Usually, you’ll find the standard ones though, the ones we can all find by reading the Sonlight catalog. I wanted to share with you just a few of my favorites I don’t see recommended anywhere else. Hidden jewels!
Growing Up Yanomamo — Mike Dawson tells his story of growing up a missionary kid in the deep jungle of the Yanomamo tribe. This story is amazing and powerful!
Mysterious Benedict Society — This story is gripping and well-told. Public Service Announcement: Don’t listen while driving!
Kisses from Katie — also an amazing and powerful missionary story of a girl who dreamed to make a difference.
What Can I do for a Child Who Struggles To Read?
This is so personal and difficult! We want our kids to succeed in this area so badly that it is our temptation to push. A gentle approach is powerful though. My daughter turned ten in August and just started taking off this summer. Her reading now is amazing, but still slow and based some on context. The important thing is that we never pushed her so much that she grew to hate reading — she loves it! These reading strategies for struggling readers helped..
Consistent Practice. We used a variety of on-line tools (Samson’s Classroom, Reading Eggs, and Reading Kingdom ) for daily practice whether she wanted to or not. Just fifteen minutes a day, alternating between those programs and she was reading within six months. We are now using Reading Horizons to help her learn spelling and grammar.
Easy Practice. Alternate between challenging work and easy work. Easy is encouraging for struggling readers. This is so key!
Word Picture Study. We used word picture cards from Lone Star Learning. They were so helpful in teaching her to recognize prefixes, suffixes, and word meanings! These types of word pictures work extremely well with students who are dyslexic or right-brained learners.
Audio Books. When our children turn nine years old, they have unlimited access to our large audiobook library through their own personal mp3 player. We have been collecting appropriate family books on Audible for years — two books per month. Having audiobooks to play in the car and at bedtime teaches kids to get caught up in the story and want more. They want to learn to read for themselves!
Learn about more reading strategies with these articles.
5 Ways to Encourage a Love of Reading from Ben and Me.
Get Your Kids to Hate Reading from LaToya Edwards.
Help for the Struggling Reader from Life is Poppin.
Encourage Your Kids to Love to Read from the Quintessential Mommy.
Raising Readers from Royal Little Lambs.
For Love of a Good Book from Big-Haired Books.
Teach Your Child to Love Reading from Science Kiddos.