Some of our most beautiful memories of homeschooling are snowy Colorado days complete with a cozy fire, a cup of hot chocolate or tea, a great read-aloud, and my pajama-clad children. What a wonderful thing it is to have stories that you can all share together, the delights of which are not too soon forgotten. My family still recalls stories from books we have read during our school days, listened to in the car on long road trips to Mammo and Pappaw's house, and even the ones we listened to in the car just driving to and fro in town. Robinson Crusoe narrated by Jim Weiss is our all-time time favorite audio book. Since this particular edition was unabridged, we were able to hear the salvation message weaved in throughout the entire book. We love the unabridged stories which thoughtfully leave the heart of the author intact throughout the whole narrative. Reading aloud to children is as natural as mothering itself. It is meant to be a delightful, bonding time together and a fantastic way to disciple your children through stories. In out home, we never made our children just sit and listen, rather they always had some sort of an activity to do during reading time. At the beginning of each school day, I would give my children a few moments to gather their assorted activities and get ready to read. We had two cabinets in our kitchen dedicated to read-aloud activities. These cabinets were filled with Play-Dough, water paints, markers, puzzles, beads, jewelry kits, etc.. (The messy activities were done at the kitchen table on a place mat.) In our reading area, which was also our living room/kitchen area, were bins with Lego's and other toys. (Note- when we started to read, the children would have their stack of Lego's ready, then have to wait until I got to a stopping point to gather more. They are super loud when they shuffle through the box.) As my children got older, we graduated to hot glue guns, sewing machines, soldering irons for metal work, and my daughter even went through a time of using a small blow torch to make glass jewelry. Christie was quite a sight to see in her pajamas, safety glasses with blow torch in hand.
After each reading session, I would ask my children to narrate back to me what was read to them, and they always could tell me. Sometimes, they were a bit distracted, but overall they retained what they learned at the time.These days, it's just my 16 year old Jack and me at the cozy recliners, drinking our tea while he programs his computer games or some other kind of high-tech craft. Because of the nature of how active our reading time has been, my children have never fussed about not wanting to have read-aloud time. They are each highly creative and educated individuals that love to learn.
Studies have shown over and over that a child who is read to has a higher IQ than children that were not read to. If you do nothing else in your homeschool, please read to your children. Every school day, we did some form of math, reading lesson, a small bit of handwriting (only when they were ready and only a small bit) and read aloud. The read-aloud portion of our homeschooling day took an average of 1-2 hours each day. Often my children would beg me to read more because they loved the books so much. If you don't like the book, or if it is boring, chances are your children will not like the book. Don't feel bad not finishing a book if it is not working for your family and particular interests.
The most important part of my school day was my time with the Lord each day where I would ask Him for wisdom about which books to read, for us to have time to read, and be able to enjoy the books. Follow the Holy Spirit and read what He gives you. Pray each time you go to the library or book store. God knows the books he wants you to read to your children. Follow God, not man. Don't compare your homeschool with anyone else's. You follow your God and His wisdom for your family. With that in mind, here are a few of our most beloved books that we used in our home. Remember, pray and ask God for the particular books for your family.
Discipleship is easier when you have a beautiful book in hand to assist you in teaching your children. We have loved Leading Little Ones to God by Marian M. Schoolland, which explains spiritual truths to children in a way that they, and you can understand.
The Childs' Story Bible by Catherine Voss is a beautiful and accurate account of the scriptures. It makes the Bible stories come alive in an easy to understand way.
One of the best Bible's to cuddle up with your kids and read to them in bed is hands down The Picture Bible by Iva Hoth. It's filled with word-for-word scripture and helps everyone, young and old, to be able to understand God's word. My kids favorite words to me and my husband after we finished reading it for the day was "Please, please one more story!!"
Our all-time favorite story book, which I still read to my children as teens, is The Complete Tales of Beatrix Potter. By the grace of God we were able to travel to the Lake District in England and see her beautiful country home. What a delight it was to see my teenage children so excited to see all of the things associated with Beatrix Potters' stories and characters.
When my children were teens, we read Sir Knight of the Splendid Way by W.E.Cule, which is available through Lamplighter Books. It is a dear old book written long ago that portrays the Christian life through allegory. This beautiful book has a chapter in which a character dies and goes to heaven. It describes Christian death in the most lovely an encouraging way I have ever seen. The story brought joyful tears to our eyes each time we re-read the book.
In the later high school years, we read The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom. Words can't express how difficult it was to read her story, but how inspiring it was for our family to see how she showed the love of Christ everywhere she went, even in the concentration camps.
Stay tuned for next time where I will be discussing how to help your children to be creative through all sorts of easy crafts and mediums. May the Lord bless you as you endeavor to educate your children with gentleness and grace in the power of the Holy Spirit.