Saturday, February 23, 2013

The best 45 minutes a day

There are SO MANY things that we have to make sure our children do daily; brush their teeth, school work, eat their fruits and veggies, some sort of artistic pursuit, play outside for an hour, play with siblings, chores, creative writing, build, explore plus I'm told they need at least 9 hours sleep! And I'M supposed to find time to clean, cook, work, exercise, walk the dog, bills, study, read, husband is around somewhere. Aaaauuugh. I only have 24 hours folks.
It can be tough to prioritize.  And all our shoulds can make parenting stressful and overwhelming. I have rarely hit all the marks, most time our daily shoulds turn in to eventually we'll get there. (And yes, I've sent a child to school without brushing their teeth...they lived.)
There is one activity I want to stress the importance of - reading aloud to your children! Reading aloud is so important. As an educator, I have learned that reading aloud is perhaps the most important activity in the teaching of reading. Children need to hear the best literature read aloud to them everyday.  And not just when they can't read it for themselves, but through all of their school years!
I don't think read alouds are time for the children to just lie back and float off to dream land. During a read aloud we model to our children how to think sequentially, we comment on characters and the reason for events, we predict, we retell the story, etc.  We model all of the strategies they can use as independent readers. This does not take a PhD. It boils down to reading the story aloud, letting your child know you enjoyed it, making comments along the way ("Oh, I didn't expect that to happen." "Why did she go there?") and asking your child what part they liked/disliked and to tell you about it. Reading together shows a child this is an activity you value and you want to share it with them.
Hubby and I have always made time for reading in our lives. Our house is full of books, we checked out the local library first before deciding to move to our little village, we join in the girls' excitement when a new and wonderful book is discovered.  Okay, you get the picture - we are book people, folks! We wear the love of reading on our sleeves.
When they were little we grabbed little bits of time to read to the morning while we were drinking coffee and wanted a quiet activity, while waiting for lunch, rainy days, bedtime, bath time, potty time (do you?), anytime.
Now that they are older and reading on their own, I've forgotten the importance of reading aloud.  I still do during sick days and summer break, but that has been it.
This year reading aloud is going back on the list of important activities!!!! Tatatada! (can you tell I've been thinking about my priorities this new year?) Will I do a daily read aloud? No way, just not in the cards.  But I'm going to look for those moments when we can share a few pages and meet new characters together.  There are plenty of on-line resources that suggest excellent read alouds for every age group. I'm gonna get a paperback version, put it within easy reach, read it aloud, and draw power and peace and strength from reading. What a great thing to share.

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