When you've let reading aloud slide off your priority list, how do you restore it to its rightful place? It's easy for me to let reading aloud with our kids fall to the wayside during the summer- our time and energy is spent on other worthwhile seasonal pursuits. But fall is looming large ahead, and I'm looking forward to spending hours cozied up and lost in story.
Just because I'm motivated by that idealistic picture of us all snuggled under blankets, sipping cocoa and wandering into Narnia, however, doesn't mean it's super easy to make happen. It's like anything else that ought to be done daily- if I don't set myself up to make it a priority, it's not likely to happen. "It" can be daily prayer, journaling, reading aloud, exercising, practicing my photography, washing the dishes- anything I want to get to every single day. If I want to see it happen regularly, I need to be somewhat strategic about it.
Today I'd love to discuss how to rev back up for another great year of reading aloud. I have three basic strategies I use to motivate myself when we've slipped out of the read-aloud habit: setting a time, getting inspired, and tracking progress.
1. Set a TimeIf there's no time set aside for reading aloud, I can be sure that it just won't happen. This year I have the added challenge of contending with a toddler and two newborns, so I'm not using a specific hour of the day. Instead, I'm setting up our school day to leave room for reading aloud during a certain block of time. So instead of saying that we'll read aloud from 9-9:30, for example, I plan to read for 30 minutes at some time during the morning. To allow for this, I haven't crammed our mornings full of other schoolwork. From the 8-12 time block, all we're doing is loving on babies, doing our math, and reading aloud.
You can read aloud during meal times if that works for you (that doesn't work for me- I'm nursing twins so I'm constantly starving and can't read aloud while I'm eating-and eating- and eating). ;) If your kids attend school away from home during the day, you might like that chunk of time right before bed as your read-aloud time.
It doesn't matter when it happens. Just pick a time that works for your family during this season of life. You might have to have to work around soccer practice, music lessons, baby naps, or drivers ed. Wherever you are in life, don't fight it. We're all in different seasons and our families have different needs. Just set up your day to work for you. We CAN make reading aloud a priority, if we believe in it enough.
2. Get inspired!Find something that lets you try on a variety of funny voices. Go for comical. Or inspiring. Or adventurous. Whatever gets your kids to beg you each day for just one more chapter. I know that if my kids are pressuring me to read each day, I'm much more likely to make it happen. We just finished reading A Midsummer Night's Dream, and there is no way in heck that my kids would have let me skip a day of reading aloud- they were all too eager to find out what that mischievous Robin Goodfellow would do next. ;)
Above all, reading aloud is about connecting with our kids. More than cultivating the moral imagination, improving their language capacities, or filling them up with rich storehouses of beautiful stories and images, we are building relationships with our children. Don't overthink your read-aloud choices too much at the beginning of a new school year- just choose something fun that will allow you all to laugh and enjoy one another!
3. Track progressI like to use the Read-Aloud Revival form, but you can use whatever method or system works for you. When I can SEE visually how much time we're reading (or not reading!), I'm encouraged to continue until we meet our goal. Goal-setting in minutes (instead of in chapters or number of books) works better for me. Figure out what makes you tick and then keep track. It's likely to help.
So what about you?How are you getting inspired to read aloud to your kids this school year? What are you using to motivate yourself to get back in the read-aloud saddle? Let's talk in the combox. I'm removing word verification to make it easier to have a conversation.
It's been way too long since we've encouraged one another- let's get to it! :)