Stories from New Homeschoolers: Celebrating School Choice!

Share this post via email










Submit
Celebrating School Choice in a Year of Forced Decisions
Pictured in face-masks made by their grandma, Rodger, age 14;Katherine, age 12; and Rose, age 7 are reading their current science book.

Jan. 24-31, 2022 is School Choice Week, a time when Americans celebrate their freedom to choose how to educate their children whether it's in a public school, private school, charter school, homeschooling, distance learning, or some other hybrid set-up.

In celebration of this annual event, we talked to new homeschoolers to find out how contented they are about their choice to homeschool compared to when they first made that choice.

Are they happier with their choice? Less happy? Or feeling the same?

But what we wanted to know is: Now that you are homeschooling, are you happy with it?

Homeschool Happiness Scale 5 out of 5

I was homeschooled in early elementary, but never thought I could do it for my kids, as I own a restaurant with crazy hours. But when schools closed, I started looking and kept being drawn to Sonlight. I almost decided to start in September but let self-doubt get the best of me and opted for virtual learning at my kids' public school, against everything in my gut telling me to homeschool. I called it quits after 3 weeks and ordered Sonlight for my K and 4th grader. It’s turned the dreaded year of more blessings than we can count. The juggling is difficult with a full time job, but the rewards are exponential. We traded frustrations for milestones and busy mornings to cuddly story times in front of the fire. It’s not all sunshine and roses, but I can definitely say the blessings outweigh the hard days. —Summer S.

[Homeschooling with Sonlight has] been by far the best thing I could have done for my kids. I wish I had done this sooner, but better late than never. —Iris T.

This is our first year in school (my oldest is a kindergartener). I had her enrolled in a private Christian school, but due to Covid, they had to close down. I was scrambling to find something as I didn’t want her first experience with school to be online. I asked around, and a friend suggested Sonlight. I’m so glad she did! At first it was a struggle, especially with two younger children (ages 3 and 1). But now that we are about halfway through, we have a system we love! I’m seriously considering continuing with Sonlight next year. —Jessica B.

My homeschool mom friends encouraged me that distance learning and homeschooling are not the same. Before long, I was discussing homeschool options with my husband and ready to move forward with it. I was scared, felt unqualified, and completely overwhelmed. Five months into it and, not only do I love it, but my kids do, too! Best decision ever! We have been able to review areas that my children feel that they struggle with, we have all learned new things, and their confidence in their learning ability is improving. We have our rough moments/days, but we really feel that the good ones out weigh the rough ones. I really never expected it to be like this! 😍🤩 —Lindsey M.

For my family, [homeschooling] has been a very good decision. Since we started in August 2020 our life has changed a lot: less stress, my son is very happy learning, he enjoys the readings, and he is eating better!! I was so nervous about his learning with no grades and no teachers But it was a very good decision, and we are very happy. —Jenny S.

Homeschooling Next Year, Too!

"I’m a pandemic homeschool mom. I have children with special needs. Though I was not sure if I could handle it, it has turned out to be the best thing for my kids. They are less anxious and have fewer meltdowns. I love the flexibility of homeschooling. We have decided to continue homeschooling next year." —Kim O.

Homeschooling has been the best choice for our family. As a former teacher, I said I could never teach my own kids. Well, God showed me not only that I could, but that this [choice] is not just for one year. We will continue to homeschool so that my kids can get individual, accelerated instruction at their levels, therapies, and still have time for fun! —Rachel B.

Happy Kids = Progress in All Areas

Homeschooling for the first time this year. Best decision ever! I love it; my kids mostly enjoy it. We decided to homeschool due to not wanting our children in masks all day. My son's attitude (3rd grade) was very poor while in public school. I felt like every weekend was a detox only to repeat it all over again. His attitude is so much better and my youngest loves preschool. We love all the books so far and really dig into the history. We love it! —Amy Roach

My daughter is very high risk [for Covid-19]. I was terrified. We pulled her out right before the schools closed last spring. We started dabbling in homeschool while the school was trying to get virtual up and running. Virtual was not good for us. I started researching, and Sonlight just kept coming up. I’m so glad we chose it for science and history. My daughter is dyslexic, and the read-alouds are just the right thing. I’m very happy with my choice. She will go back to public school eventually, but I’m not worried anymore and am very grateful for Sonlight to carry us through. —Angela G. S.

Flexibility that Works for Our Life

I needed a school day that revolved around my work schedule as a full time professor, instead of a zoom schedule and demands coming from a school system that did not understand how to be effective with a distance learning model. I found Sonlight during the summer and have been so happy to include Jesus and our Christian faith during this season. Both of my kiddos (2 & 3rd grades) are thriving! I get to see immediate connections made, and also see where they are struggling. —Erin H. W.

This has been the best decision I have made in regards of schooling for my kids! Last year public school ended in such upheaval! My daughter lost her entire second grade year of math due to shutdowns and struggles that the school wasn’t willing to help with. This year she is excelling in math! My son is reading for pleasure now instead of "because he has to" and will read to his little sister who’s a toddler. This is our lifestyle now. Homeschooling has offered such freedom! I’m here to say that homeschooling is easier than homework! —Katie J. B.

Share Your School Choice Experience

Use #sonlightstories

We'd love to hear from you, whether you are a brand new, 2021 homeschooler or a long-time Sonlighter. Choose one of the stories backgrounds below and personalize it with your own photos, text, and stickers that tell why you are happy you chose to homeschool with Sonlight. Just click the image to enlarge it.

Be sure to use #sonlightstories on your share.

Still on the fence? It's not too late to switch to homeschooling with Sonlight and get the same benefits our other rookie families have experienced.

Share this post via email










Submit
Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

4 Reasons Never to Stop Reading Aloud to Your Children

Share this post via email










Submit

I cannot express how great my excitement was when my children began reading their own bedtime stories. Don’t get me wrong...I loved those precious memories of storytime, but on the other hand, my kids wanted to hear Goodnight Train exactly 19 times before bed every single night. After a long day, it was pretty exhausting by the time we got around to the seventh nightly reading. 

It’s easy to push for that transition when children can read to themselves without your help. Believe me, I get it.

Yet reading aloud is still valuable, even in the older grades. Perhaps I should even say especially in the older grades. Here are a few reasons we need to keep reading aloud to our children even after they have become independent readers.

1. Reading Aloud Develops Fluency

The best readers are often the readers who were read aloud to the most.

There is something about hearing the English language read fluently that registers in our child’s brain and allows them to perfect their fluency as well. Most children are not necessarily fluent readers by the time they are able to read independently. You might be surprised to hear your independent reader skip punctuation and get hung up on a few words.

Just because a child can read solo doesn’t necessarily mean they are reading fluently

Continuing to read aloud to them bridges the gap between reading independently and reading fluently. The more they hear your pauses and emotion, the more they will begin to work pause and emotion into their reading. The benefit to fluency is that fluency helps them comprehend what they are reading. Comprehension is our goal. 

2. Reading Aloud Develops Vocabulary

Did you know that most readers tend to skip words that they don’t know? Don’t believe me?

When was the last time you paused to look up a word in the dictionary as you were reading?

Don’t worry, I can’t remember either! We are generally content with skipping a word rather than digging in to figure out the meaning. 

However, when we read aloud to our kids, we are consciously reminding ourselves to look for vocabulary building opportunities. We are inviting our children to begin a conversation about words and ideas.

“What does that word mean?” are sweet words to the reading-aloud homeschool parent. Those words are the cue for us to pull out the big dictionary or ask Google. Those words invite us to store that word in our vocabulary bank and use it another day. Reading aloud is a tool to develop vocabulary.

Celebrate World Read-Aloud Day 2022 with Sonlight! And enter to win prizes!

3. Reading Aloud Models Good Comprehension Skills

I used to devour book series. I read the Ramona series as fast as lightning. I can tell you that I rarely stopped to think about whether I was comprehending the storyline, and I am sure that the author’s purpose for writing the books never crossed my mind. While I still loved my experience reading the Ramona books without thinking very deeply about them, I also wish that had thought about them a little more.

I realize now that Beverly Cleary was making a case for a child’s perspective on life. She was giving us a glimpse into the mind of a child and showing us the world through Ramona’s eyes. It was funny, because after I read Ramona the Pest as an adult, I found myself being much more patient with my children when they inevitably made mistakes. There is almost always more to books than meets the eye, and it is our job to dig into the goodness of author’s purpose, prediction, plot, and the many other facets of literacy. 

Reading aloud gives us the chance to model excellent reading techniques.

While we read aloud, we stop every so often and discuss the books. This is something we don’t really do very often when we are reading independently. While we may not need these skills quite as much in series reading, be assured that our kids will need them as they get older and begin higher level literature courses.

4. Reading Aloud Builds Bonds

As a mother of four children, I have plenty to do, so I tend to multitask during family movie night. During those nights in the living room when I'm trying to merge family time with productivity, one of my children will turn to me and excitedly say, “Mom, did you see that? It was so cool how he just….”

And I am stuck, not having a clue what they are talking about. I missed out on a moment to connect through movies, and it always makes me sad.

Books connect us too, possibly even more than movies do. When we read books together, we find ourselves laughing together, crying together, and even travelling together.

It is a marvelous thing. Reading aloud builds bonds

So when do we stop reading aloud? 

Never.

I often think about how in the old days, families would sit around the fireplace and listen to the father read aloud from the Bible. This continued forever, even when the children were out of the house and on their own, simply because there was likely only one copy of the Bible.

There is something special about connecting over literature, and there is no age limit to those precious opportunities for connection. I believe that reading aloud can be enjoyed by all ages, anytime. So don’t stop. Keep reading aloud as long as you can.

Request a Catalog

We'd love to send you a free catalog, full of great books you can read aloud with your children. Request yours here.

Share this post via email










Submit
Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

11 Things That Happen When You Read to Your Child

Share this post via email










Submit

It's just plain fun to read a great story to children. When you stop at a cliffhanger, they can't help but beg to know what happens next.

But aside from fun, what good does reading out loud do? Research continues to confirm what we’ve known all along: Reading together does wonders for children.

As you dive into your Sonlight homeschool curriculum, you'll spend hours sharing gripping stories with your kids. In case you ever wonder if it's all worth it, I've compiled a partial list of the wonderful benefits that blossom when you read to your child.

1. Children learn to love books

When you read out loud to your children, you help them enjoy stories far beyond their own reading abilities. Whether children even know the alphabet yet, they can tag along on thrilling adventures and learn that books are a true treasure. Time and time again, Sonlight families discover that reading aloud instills a love of books. After all, who doesn't love to hear a good story?

2. You help develop your children's brains (and their imaginations)

A study in 2015 compared children ages 3-5 who had heard many read-alouds with children who hadn't. The study put children in brain imaging equipment and then had someone read a story to them. The children whose parents had read a lot to them showed significantly more brain activity in the visualization section of the brain when they heard the story.

Even though they couldn't see the pictures in the book, they could visualize what was happening. Children who hadn't been read to much had much less activity in this area of their brain when they heard a story.

As one researcher said, "This brain area is 'a watershed region, all about multisensory integration, integrating sound and then visual stimulation.'" So reading to your children seems to develop key areas of the brain!

3. Children develop empathy

Studies have also shown that reading good literature helps people become more empathetic. When you read the Sonlight Read-Alouds to your children, they get daily practice walking in other people's shoes, as they follow the inner thoughts and experiences of characters very different from themselves. As studies suggest, reading helps us imagine what other people are feeling. What a vital life skill!

4. Children learn the huge vocabulary they need

Children need to hear and read many, many words in order to develop the vocabulary they need to be well-educated. The English language has far too many words to learn through regular conversation alone. But as studies have shown, listening to TV or the radio doesn't build young children's vocabulary. Reading and listening to books read in person, however, do build vocabulary. And not only that, but even children's books contain a much wider range of vocabulary than normal conversation between two college-educated adults. I believe that reading (and listening to others read) often and widely is the only way children will develop a truly robust vocabulary.

5. Children learn about the world

Reading aloud with your children also has an obvious benefit: they learn the content that they hear. This reality is at the heart of Sonlight's approach. When children learn about history and other cultures in the context of a good story, they enjoy it and they remember it. Now that's something I doubt you could say about textbook learning.

As children learn about history through biographies, historical fiction and story-based history books (such as A Child’s History of the World), they form a picture of what life was like at various times and places in history. They remember significant historical events because they've formed an emotional connection to characters who lived through them. They know more than just facts and dates; they understand why and how things happened as they did.

6. Children develop listening skills

Understanding information that you hear is a critical skill in life. Reading out loud develops that skill in a natural and pleasant way. When children hear stories, they learn to translate words into meaning. That helps them in so many ways, and is a vital part of reading comprehension when they read on their own.

7. You expand children's knowledge beyond what they can read on their own

I actually wrote about this here: "The mechanics of reading can be tricky. I think it's analogous to handwriting. You know that a child who is just learning to form her letters can create a much more complicated story when she's talking to you than she could if she sat down to write it. It's similar with reading. Research shows that until eighth grade or so, kids can comprehend a much higher level of writing when it's read out loud to them than they can when they read on their own. So reading out loud to your children all these years helps them access ideas, vocabulary and concepts that would otherwise be out of their reach."

8. You open the door to conversation

Reading together helps you have meaningful conversations with your children. Consider those sticky topics that you know you should talk about with your kids, but you're not sure how. Reading together eases you into that. When you read Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, for example, you see discrimination first hand and can talk about the effects of racism on the main character's family. Your children want to ask you about relationships, money, poverty, war, and other uncomfortable topics.

Reading real books together helps you be a huge influence in how they think about these things instead of letting them get all their information from their peers or mass media.

9. Children learn to focus

As you read with your children, their attention spans will lengthen. In a world so full of distractions, the ability to focus on one task will be a huge advantage for this next generation. Even if children are playing quietly with something else while you read, their attention is set on that one story, instead of jumping from Facebook to Twitter to their latest text message. This ability to stay on one task is a vital skill in today's world.

10. You help children develop character (in a way that sticks!)

Reading out loud naturally helps children gain worthy role models and learn what good character really looks like. Life isn't always black and white, and kids learn from the characters they meet in books who make good decisions, and who face consequences and grow from their bad decisions. When you read these books together, you can naturally talk about similar things your own children may be struggling with. The books you read help you discuss real-life scenarios with your children so they can truly grasp what virtue looks like. In this way, I think Sonlight's literature-based approach is far more effective at forming character in the real world than moralistic tales or "character-training" curriculum.

11. You develop your relationship with your child

Relationships are built on shared time and shared experiences. Reading together gives you both. You get to fill up your children's "love tanks" with the love languages of physical touch and quality time. You create a reservoir of shared adventures to reference in your family culture, such as inside jokes or cultural references from books you've shared.

And you accomplish all this in the context of relationship. I love how Perri Klass, a NYT author puts it:

And as every parent who has read a bedtime story knows, [these benefits of reading aloud are] all happening in the context of face-time, of skin-to-skin contact, of the hard-to-quantify but essential mix of security and comfort and ritual.

So here's to a wonderful homeschool year full of beneficial Read-Alouds. Here's to helping our kids grow intellectually and emotionally, all while building family bonds. I trust that God will richly bless your times of sharing stories together.

Celebrate World Read-Aloud Day 2022 with Sonlight! And enter to win prizes!


Want more encouragement?

Sign up for Sonlight's bi-weekly e-newsletter

You'll be encouraged by the words of founder Sarita Holzmann, inspired by real-life stories from other homeschoolers, pick up practical tips for the journey and more.


Share this post via email










Submit
Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Reading Aloud Without Squashing the Life out of Your Lively Child

Share this post via email










Submit

He bounces out of bed like a pogo stick, dashes outside to jump on the trampoline, eats breakfast while hanging upside down from the bar stool asking a minimum of 523 questions, and then—just when you think he’s worn out—he races back to his room to get his dinosaur so he can show you just how loud he can roar. And it’s only 6:30 a.m.

Did I just describe your kid?  If so, you’ve probably thought, “I’d love to use a literature-based curriculum, but my child would never be able to sit and listen during the read alouds.”

After all, you’ve already sat down with him several times and tried picture books.  How will he ever be able to listen to chapter books? You might be surprised. You can read aloud without squashing the life out of your lively child.

A few tweaks to your read aloud time will set your lively child on the right path for developing a love for read aloud time.

1. Keep Their Hands Busy

This is one of my top tips because my kids love to draw and create. Read aloud time is their favorite time to practice their craft. Handiwork keeps hands busy while minds can stay focused. Sewing, crafting, crochet, and building with blocks are all great options.

2. Engage Them in Discussion

Kids will listen much more intently if they know that we genuinely value their opinion on a topic. Look for opportunities to pause your reading and discuss themes and ideas raised in the book. Your Sonlight Instructor’s Guides provide an excellent jumping board of discussion starters for each read aloud.

3. Create an Atmosphere

In the winter, gather in the living room. Pile up on the couch with blankets and light a few candles.  Maybe offer your children a special read aloud tea or hot chocolate. In the summertime, grab a quilt and some lemonade and take your read aloud outside. Cultivate an atmosphere that connects reading aloud to warm, family memories.

4. Break it Up

Few people can sit still for two hours, listening to a parade of books. So spread it out. Take care of your longest Read-Aloud in the morning when attention spans are longest and then sprinkle in the rest through the day. Snack times, lunch time, and bedtime provide a captive audience when kids are more prone to listen.

5. Increase Reading Time Gradually

Your first read aloud session won’t be perfect, so don’t set yourself up for failure by expecting it to be. Plan for a short session the first time and increase it gradually as the weeks go by. By the end of the year, you’ll be surprised by how long they can listen to great books.

You probably just glanced out the window to find that your sweet, active child is hanging from a tree limb outside, right? Don’t sweat it mama. Good books fuel imagination and play for lively children every day.  Sometimes it just takes a little training and some outside-of-the-box thinking to coax your energetic boys and girls into the land of literature.

Celebrate World Read-Aloud Day 2022 with Sonlight! And enter to win prizes!

Share this post via email










Submit
Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

6 Unique Solutions for the Child Who Hates to Read

Share this post via email










Submit

Some children hate to read. Whether because of personality or ability, whether because they haven’t yet fallen in love with any book or because their interests really do lie elsewhere, some children are not yet bookworms. Maybe some will never be bookworms.

But if you want to encourage the child who hates to read toward a love of books, what can you do? Here are some of the best tips I’ve seen over the years.

Continue reading below or listen here:

1. Use Graphic Novels and Comic Books

Cartoon or comic book collections aren't intimidating to the child who hates to read. Garfield has few words per panel, and after three short panels . . . the punch line! This offers maximum storytelling in minimum words, a great sense of accomplishment, and high entertainment value. Calvin and Hobbes is another favorite, but the vocabulary and ability level for these cartoons is a good bit more challenging.

2. Let Them Stay Up Past Bedtime

If your children have a bedtime of, say, 8:30 p.m., allow your child who hates to read to stay up until 9:00. (Or as late as they want if the child self-regulates wisely.) Of course, the catch is that the extra time past bedtime must be used reading. This treat is highly motivating for some children.

Offer a stack of cartoons, comic books, magazines, and high-interest novels by the bed with a battery operated lantern or flashlight to set the stage for a nightly reading habit.

3. Stop Reading at an Inopportune Time

If you know of a dramatic cliff-hanger book, you might start reading it aloud, but then have to go elsewhere right at an exciting moment. Ideally, your children will keep reading themselves.

This trick doesn't always work, but it can at least create a sense of anticipation for the next read aloud session with your child who hates to read.

4. Capitalize on the Momentum of a Series

Along these same lines, you might try reading the first book in a series aloud, then leaving the rest of the books for your children to carry on.

Or if a book has no sequel, you may be able to convince the child who hate to read to look for more titles by the same author or even more works in that genre. Use whatever hooks you have!

Celebrate World Read-Aloud Day 2022 with Sonlight! And enter to win prizes!

5. Lean on Audiobooks

For those struggling with the actual reading, either because of eye tracking issues, or dyslexia, or whatever, get audio books. These are available to borrow from the library for free, and services like Audible often run significant sales. Audiobooks allow your struggling readers to listen and follow along in their own books, or to listen, like a read-aloud, when you are not available to do the reading yourself.

6. Choose a Literature-Based Curriculum

This suggestion may seem backwards. Why use a literature-based program to teach a child who doesn't like to read? The reasons is that a child can love books and adore great literature but still hate to read. If you can establish the love of books through reading aloud and exposure to high quality biographies, historical fiction, and nonfiction, the reading bug may eventually kick in.

Even if you have a child who hates to read, try Sonlight with your family and watch your reluctant readers become enthralled with their books.

If you have questions about your reluctant reader—or any other questions!—you can schedule an appointment to talk to an Advisor. One of our experienced homeschooling moms would love to talk to you.

Share this post via email










Submit
Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Teaching Young Children How to Listen to Read-Alouds

Share this post via email










Submit

While many children seem to naturally understand the skills that go along with listening to stories, it is not a skill that all children intuitively learn. Since Sonlight is a literature-rich program, developing listening skills is as important as developing reading or writing skills. When we feed children information or teach them to read for it, it can get harder for them to listen for it. But being able to hear and understand is an essential skill.

Determine if Listening Skill Is the Issue

Sonlight tends to use books that are interesting and engaging wherever possible. But because not all children develop in the same areas at the same pace, a child who is ahead in reading might need more time to work on math skills. Or a child who is ahead in science might not do as well with history. It’s important, then, to determine if the issue you are having with your child is their ability to listen to stories or if the material they are listening to is simply a little bit more advanced than they are currently ready for. 

There is nothing wrong with a child who isn’t quite ready yet. It simply means his or her brain might have been more devoted to sports or singing skills or math ability, and hasn’t quite caught up in listening or vocabulary quite yet. Being at different levels in different subjects or activities (asynchronous) is very normal for children, and, barring learning disorders, they usually catch up when their brain is ready to.

In the meantime, if you seem to notice your child is having trouble listening to most of what you are reading to her or him, then you might simply be working one level above their current ability. Dropping back a level will allow their brain time to develop. 

But if your child is having trouble concentrating on one type of book, or at certain times of day, or sometimes does well and sometimes doesn’t, then the problem might be they have trouble listening. 

Teaching Them to Pay Attention

First, make sure your child is paying attention. She may be zoning out. Stop every few sentences and ask a question about the last thing you read to see if she is listening. If she does well, extend the time between questions. For example, if I read, "John put on his red coat and went outside," I could ask "What color coat did he wear?" Between reading aloud and asking the question, I try to not change my tempo or voice to see if they are really listening.

If your child has trouble with this, do it often. Knowing you will expect it often will help his brain get used to listening for your questions, and then, get used to listening for the information in the story that might become a question, and by default, get used to listening to everything else.

Teaching Comprehension

When you believe your child is listening to the words well and is hearing what you are reading, it’s easy to transition into teaching overall comprehension. Every time you finish a daily Reader or Read-Aloud passage, ask "What are three things you learned from this chapter," or, "Tell me three things you remember about this." Let her choose any three things.

Compliment her on her choices and discuss them if you’d like. Then, respond with "The three most important things to me from this chapter were…” and then insert a good summary or narration of the passage. You might need to let your child know that you chose different key highlights because of things you remember from your past or things you found interesting, and that it’s okay if your 3 items are different from his.

If your child struggles to come up with three items, try having them find just one the first days, and then increasing up to two after a month or two, and slowly building up to three.

If your student struggles with either comprehension or listening ability, consider having him or her tested for an auditory processing disorder. They might be hearing well, but it might not be making all the connections in their brain.

You might need to combine teaching comprehension with continuing work on building listening skills for a few months.  

Let Your Child Stim While Listening

While stimming (self-stimulating) behaviors (actions where your child uses repetitive movements or sounds to help them concentrate or adapt) is often found in some developmental disorders, we all self-stimulate to some degree. Whether it’s doodling on a pad of paper while listening to a lecture, or twirling our hair while on the phone, or even knitting during church service, certain behaviors help us to listen better by distracting the brain from other distractions. 

Children also sometimes need to keep their hands or bodies busy while listening if they want to listen better. Other children just struggle to focus if they are quiet and still, and while seemingly contradictory, learn faster and better when their bodies are in motion. Here are many ways you can keep your child’s body in motion while listening to read-alouds

But, watch for patterns. Other children will struggle to listen if there is too much movement or noise, and need to be quiet and sitting still to listen at their best. 

Teach Your Child to Want to Listen

We’ve all heard boring speakers or watched documentaries that put us to sleep. Our brain is not equally engaged or excited about listening to all topics equally. There are times when listening to something is much harder work than it ought to be. When that happens, incentivize your children to listen. Offer him something to reward him for working at something hard for him, whether it be stickers or earning points toward a trip to the store, or extra screen time.

Give him a reason to want to listen.

Children are often eager learners, so learning how to listen doesn’t take most children very long, although you will find some who would rather be doing anything else rather than listening. However, teaching listening skills should gradually increase over time, and you might need to start at a lower level to really solidify those skills before moving on. In time, with continued use of a literature-rich program that uses the engaging, imagination-sparking books that Sonlight uses, will help your children to be better listeners in general, as well as better at grasping and learning information through a variety of input methods. 

Celebrate World Read-Aloud Day 2022 with Sonlight! And enter to win prizes!

Share this post via email










Submit
Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Big List: 25 Ways Reading Helps Your Children

Share this post via email










Submit

I love books. And I love helping children learn to love books not only because reading is a great pastime. I also believe that reading and hearing stories read out loud should be central in every child’s education. So it’s no coincidence that reading great stories is the backbone of a Sonlight education.

I talk often about the benefits of reading, so I wanted to pull everything I could think of into one big list. And here it is! Enjoy this huge compilation of academic, developmental, and relational benefits that come with diving in to a good story.

1. Reading helps children remember what they learn

Bits of information devoid of context are difficult to remember. But put that same content into a story—give it context— and all of a sudden, it’s easier to remember. Stories serve as anchors for information that would otherwise be lost in the great sea of data in your mind. Learning about history from real books helps children remember what they learn.

2. Learning through books makes learning enjoyable

Not only do children remember information better when they learn it through a good story, they also enjoy the process! Children enjoy good stories far more than textbooks. And it’s just a lot more fun to teach kids who enjoy the learning process instead of trying to force-feed them.

3. Reading develops emotional intelligence and empathy

Research suggests that reading quality literature helps children develop empathy and emotional intelligence. When you read the Sonlight Read-Alouds to your children, they get daily practice walking in other people’s shoes as they follow the inner thoughts and experiences of characters very different from themselves. As studies suggest, reading helps us imagine what other people are feeling. What a vital life skill!

4. Reading improves children’s academic abilities

Reading helps kids perform better in other subjects. A recent study suggests that frequent reading is an even more important predictor of children’s academic success than is their parents’ financial status or level of education. One researcher suggests that the reason reading boosts scores in seemingly unrelated subjects like math is because the regular act of reading helps children practice taking in and processing new information.

5. Reading helps students understand the big picture of history

As children learn about history through biographies, historical fiction and story-based history books, such as A Child’s History of the World, they form a picture of what life was like at various times and places in history. They remember significant historical events because they’ve formed an emotional connection to characters who lived through them. They know more than just facts and dates; they understand why and how things happened as they did.

6. Read-Alouds develop listening skills

Hearing you read aloud helps children develop listening skills. When children hear stories, they get practice translating words into meaning. That helps them in so many ways, and is a vital part of reading comprehension when they read on their own.

7. Reading grows kids’ brains

Reading out loud to your children enhances their brain development. One study compared young children whose parents had read to them often with children who had not heard many books read out loud. The young children who had heard many books showed significantly more activity in the brain’s visualization area (which is all about multisensory integration) when they listened to a story.

8. Reading helps kids learn to focus

As you read with your children, their attention spans will lengthen. In a world so full of distractions, the ability to focus on one task will be a huge advantage for this next generation. Even if children are playing quietly with something else while you read, their attention is set on that one story, instead of jumping from to Instagram to YouTube and back again. This ability to stay on one task is a vital skill in today’s world.


Sonlight students Samantha, Karlie and Brandon R soak up all the benefits of books on their favorite reading rock.

9. Reading can help develop character

Reading out loud with your children helps them develop character in a way that sticks. As kids see realistic characters face struggles, make decisions, and live with the consequences, they learn the meaning and value of virtue. The books you read help you discuss real-life scenarios with your children so they can truly grasp what virtue looks like. In this way, I think Sonlight’s literature-based approach is far more effective at forming character in the real world than moralistic tales or character-training curriculum.

10. Books provide great role models

Reading naturally helps children gain worthy role models. Life isn’t always black and white, and kids learn from the characters they meet in books who make good decisions, or who face consequences and grow from their bad decisions. We want our kids to gain role model— like those in great stories
—who have overcome great obstacles to succeed.

Celebrate World Read-Aloud Day 2022 with Sonlight! And enter to win prizes!

11. Reading helps children become culturally literate

As they read, children learn about the world and how it works. Sonlight Readers and Read-Alouds help your children develop the cultural literacy they need in life. As they enjoy great stories, they learn the background information they need to make sense of cultural references and the way our world works now. In other words, books provide the background knowledge so children can understand more of what they learn.

12. Read-Alouds let children access concepts they can’t read on their own

Research shows that until eighth grade or so, kids can comprehend a much higher level of writing when it’s read out loud to them than they can when they read on their own. So reading out loud to your children all these years helps them access ideas, vocabulary and concepts that would otherwise be out of their reach.

13. Reading teaches vocabulary

The English language has far too many words to learn through conversation alone. Reading is the best way for children to learn the immense vocabulary they need in order to be educated adults. Even children’s books contain a much wider range of vocabulary than normal conversation between two college-educated adults. Two authors reviewed all the research and report:

“Most theorists are agreed that the bulk of vocabulary growth during a child’s lifetime occurs indirectly through language exposure rather than through direct teaching. Furthermore, many researchers are convinced that reading volume, rather than oral language, is the prime contributor to individual differences in children’s vocabularies”

(Cunningham and Stanovich, 1998)

In other words, kids have to read in order to develop a robust vocabulary.

14. Reading together fosters meaningful conversations with your children

Reading out loud with your children opens the door to conversations about tough topics that are on their hearts. Reading real books together helps you be a huge influence in how they think about these things ... instead of letting them get all their information from their peers or mass media. Reading books together provides opportunities for your children to ask you questions about things they wonder about, such as love, loss, careers, family, and what it means to follow God. Reading together fosters meaningful conversations with your children

15. Reading aloud shows your children love

Reading together shares quality time with your children, and often includes important physical touch, when young ones sit in your lap. Those are two of the five love languages that Dr. Gary Chapman describes.

16. Reading together gives your family shared experiences

Reading out loud together helps your family create a reservoir of shared adventures to reference in your family culture, such as inside jokes or cultural references from books you’ve shared. This helps foster a sense of family and belonging, and helps your children feel like insiders in your family.

The Big List: 25 Ways Reading Helps Your Children

17. Reading aloud fosters family bonding

Relationships are built on shared time and shared experiences. Reading together gives you both. All the benefits of reading out loud with your children happen in what one author calls

“the context of face-time, of skin-to-skin contact, of the hard-to-quantify but essential mix of security and comfort and ritual.”

18. Reading relieves stress

Homeschooling with literature-based curriculum has a daily built-in stress reliever. One study suggests that reading for just six minutes can reduce stress by 68%. Many a frazzled day at home with kids is soothed when you get to sit down and sink into a good story together.

19. Reading out loud gives kids what they really want

One large survey about children and reading shows that school-age children wish their parents had kept reading to them after they learned to read on their own. Sonlight builds this precious parent-child time right into your school day. Even if your kids don’t want to snuggle like they used to during a Read-Aloud, know that they probably really enjoy that special time with you.

20. Reading helps children become great writers

Many writers agree that reading helps people learn to write. When children read good writing, they develop an ear for good writing. They learn the cadences, turns of phrase, and pacing of good authors. Sonlight’s Language Arts programs are based on this very concept. Dr. Ruth Beechick writes,

“Workbooks don’t really teach children how to write effectively.”

Dr. Ruth Beechick

Instead, she says students best learn to write well as they listen to good writing, look at good writing, copy good writing, and then, finally, write on their own. Reading widely provides a great foundation for this process.

21. Reading helps develop critical thinking skills

When we read fiction and biographies, we learn to consider other people’s points of view. Children learn to walk in other people’s shoes. They learn to compare and reflect on different people’s thoughts and experiences. This is a key skill in learning critical thinking. In fact, Sonlight’s entire literature-based approach helps foster critical thinking skills naturally and more effectively than workbooks ever can.

22. Read-Alouds can motivate children to do their math

On a typical homeschool morning at the Holzmann house, we would get up and tackle math, language arts, spelling, and other more laborious work. But then came the really good stuff; we’d reconvene after a short break and dive into the day’s reading.

Three of my four kids would work diligently through their other subjects each morning because they knew that fun reading lay ahead. (I’ll admit that one of my children still needed extra encouragement to stay on task in the morning.) But for the most part, my children worked hard because they wanted to find out what happened next in their Read-Alouds and Readers.

23. Reading prepares children for a lifetime of unlimited learning

The sky is the limit for what we can learn in life. Adults who read regularly about what interests them will never stop learning. Learning to love books prepares children to keep learning their entire lives.

24. Reading aloud helps children love books

Whether children are still learning the alphabet or are preparing to graduate high school, they can tag along on thrilling adventures and learn that books are a true treasure. Time and time again, Sonlight families discover that reading aloud instills a love of books. After all, who doesn’t love to hear a good story?

25. Reading helps children love to learn

Celebrate World Read-Aloud Day 2022 with Sonlight! And enter to win prizes!

When children learn to love books, they also start to love learning in general. I’ve seen it time and time again. Sonlight’s literature-based learning turns reluctant students into students with a passion to learn. When books help you “do school” in such an enjoyable fashion, children discover that that learning is fun! And when children actually want to learn and do school (instead of dreading it), that can make all the difference in the world. It’s like the difference between feeding reluctant and hungry eaters. As one Sonlight mom says,

“The woman who swore that she would never homeschool LOVES it. Not to mention my kids!!” Can you imagine anyone saying that about a textbook or workbook-based program?

So dive on in to the adventure of learning together through books. You and your children will reap rewards far and wide! And I promise you’ll have a wonderful time along the way.

Sonlight makes the most of these 25 benefits of reading. Go to SmoothCourse to explore your options for a literature-rich curriculum.


Want more encouragement?

Sign up for Sonlight's bi-weekly e-newsletter

You'll be encouraged by the words of founder Sarita Holzmann, inspired by real-life stories from other homeschoolers, pick up practical tips for the journey and more.


Share this post via email










Submit
Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment