Just Keep Readin'...Just Keep Readin'...

This week, as I promised yesterday, I am going to focus on fun learning for your kids at home. I've scoured the internet for fun sites in various subject areas for your kids to brush up on their reading skills and math facts, to experiment, and to create. So tune back in each day this week for ideas both for you and your kids. With these in your corner, your kids will have no excuse for being bored (unless they choose to be).

Today, we're going to look at reading. If your kids like to read, then you probably don't need this post. But if your kids are not big on reading, then I encourage you to read on.

Like any other skill, reading proficiency takes time to develop. Unfortunately, in the summer, it is easy for the progress your child has made during the school year to slip a little. That's okay and that's normal. I'm not advocating forcing your kids to read all summer! But carving out time every day to read---we say about 20 minutes---helps keep them progressing forward instead of sliding backwards.

For your non- or pre-readers, taking time at the end of a busy day to read out loud is a great way to wind down the day (or give you some down time too!). Or have an older sibling read to the younger ones to practice reading smoothly out loud. 101 Picture Books to Read Before You Grow Up from Feels Like Home is a comprehensive picture book list, though the writer does admit it slants a bit towards girls. What I like most about this list however is the notes and thoughts about lessons to discuss with your kids as you read them. Of course, you may think differently, but it all is reminder that books are a great way to start good discussions.

If your child is an emergent reader, that is just starting to read on their own, I found the article Help Your Child Become a Better Reader from The Better Mom is an excellent article on phonemic awareness. If you're looking for a better understanding of the reading process, as well as a collection of activities to strengthen your kids' phonemic awareness, check this article out. She also includes a list of books that will help.

Take time in the summer to read aloud to your older kids too. This is one of our favorite family activities. Maybe it seems old fashioned to some, but it is one of the best ways we have connected with our kids. 11 Beautiful Books to Read with Your Children, from The Better Mom, is an excellent reminder of the power of story. You probably already know that I can be a bit of a book snob when it comes to children's books, so I am always looking for well-written books to read with my kids. Score!

Cultivating a love of reading is a tremendous gift. When our kids love to read, they will have a strong foundation on which to build. It might not be the visually entertaining world of  TV or video games, as it requires them to create their own "movies" in their mind. It forces them to stretch their mental muscles, which, even in the summer, is not a bad thing.

If your kids need a little extra incentive, consider making it a game or giving incentives. Our local library has a summer reading program, but sometimes I'm not keen on the prizes or they don't appeal to my kids. I love how How Does She? has a cute reading printable complete with bingo card, tickets with your own prizes, and banner pieces that can help your child visually see how much they have read over the summer! Personally, I would award kids for the time they spent reading as opposed to the number of books they read, so that levels the playing ground a little. You do need to sign up for their mailing list for the printable. (Totally worth it, in my opinion.)

Or if your kids are Kindergarten through 8th grade, and you live in LA County, your kids can read 3-6 books and write a simple 25-50 word report (depending on age) in exchange for ride vouchers at the fair. Check out this pdf flier on the Read to Ride program if you'd like to participate. If you don't live in LA County, check out your local county fair to see if they offer a similar program.

As you probably already figured out, I am a big advocate for home discipleship. Reading is at many levels one of the best ways to disciple our children. It provides our children with vital thinking and learning skills, and can potentially open the doors to relationship and deeper conversations. I think it is so unfortunate that our kids are often forced to read rather than being enticed to read. How you approach it will make a world of difference. These longer summer days are perfect for sitting in a shady spot after dinner and reading outside. Try it as a family and it can be a habit that can pay back in spades.

So what are you going to read first?