3 Remarkable Reasons for Reading School Out Loud

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photo credit: Ben White Photography

This post is an oldie but a goodie from a previous blog I owned. Some links may be affiliate links. Thank you for your support! Enjoy!

Learning generally involves a lot of writing. Maybe it isn’t handwritten, but maybe on a board or computer? (I almost wrote typewriter. Hello!) We also tend to sit quietly and read internally whatever we are trying to learn from. Is this the best way of learning? Do we find ourselves at a mental roadblock because we just cannot understand what we are trying to learn? If it involves a book of any kind, textbook or not, why not say the work out loud instead?

Saying things out loud gives our brains something new to do

Yes, we can mix up our school hours a little differently by moving around or playing games, but what if neither of those options is available? Maybe your child or yourself is finding it hard to really concentrate on the subject at hand. New concepts can be difficult for us to grasp when we are looking at seemingly endless words and it isn’t connecting the first time – or second or third!

That’s okay. Give your kid’s brain something new to do by having them do their school work out loud. This really is not a radical idea but it isn’t something we think about naturally. One example from our household is grammar. Grammar is a subject that we do in easy, incremental steps. In my mind, it’s pretty cut and dry, but for my kids, these are new ideas and rules they are learning. It can seem overwhelming trying to understand how our language works and how to apply it properly. There have been occasional tears over this and that is my cue to gently say “Why don’t we do our grammar lesson out loud instead of writing it?” My kids are always eager to do this; grammar becomes somewhat of a game and our brains are given something new to do.

Doing work out loud builds relationships

Huh? Builds relationships? Yes! When my children and I move from sitting down together and looking at a text to putting the text down and looking at each other, we are interacting on a different level. When we look at each other while reciting helping verbs, we are also speaking to each other instead of focusing on a book. I’d like to say that any prior frustrating melts away – it doesn’t always – but many problems seem to diminish because learning alone becomes learning together. Reading out loud forces me to look the other person in the eye. I’m reminded of their learning style and personality and can change the way we are approaching school that day quickly. Reading silently from a book does not do that.

Out loud means we are remembering more

Everyone has different ways of memorization. One way my kids and I learn to memorize is by saying out loud what we need to remember. When you do school orally, you are using the same method. You are not necessarily repeating the same thing over and over again – though, with grammar lessons, that would not surprise me! – but you are adding one more step to the learning process. A person remembers what they say out loud more than they will remember what they might read in passing. It really doesn’t matter what we are learning about. It will more than likely be remembered easily as you verbally express it.

Bonus tip: With anything that involves a list, especially something such as grammar, sing the list out loud with a well-known melody. “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” is a pretty good one for this.

Any way that school happens, there are going to be times when how things are usually done just come full stop. This doesn’t mean that learning has to end. Maybe something just needs to be mixed up and done differently. Read the school work out loud instead of just reading it quietly. This gives our brains a break by doing something new, builds relationships, and helps us remember the subject matter.

Do you like learning out loud? Have you tried it yourself or with your kids? If not, give it a try and let me know how it goes. Comment below or contact me from that little email icon up to the top right.

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Learn to Move and Move to Learn

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This post is an oldie but a goodie from a previous blog I owned. Some links may be affiliate links. Thank you for your support! Enjoy!

 

One person whose work I find absolutely fascinating is a biomechanist named Katy Bowman. By now, I’m sure you’ve read about how “Sitting is the New Smoking,” and how a sedentary lifestyle is not the best. Just as it is known that healthy food is necessary for our bodies to function well, Katy is passionate about how natural movement is instrumental in having a healthy body. Her blog at Nutritious Movement is educational (while sometimes a little over my head) and was instrumental in showing me a different way of viewing our homeschool days. A little bit more about Katy in a minute.

Now lets talk about education and how it relates to stillness. Have you noticed that in North America, a lot of learning is done at a table while sitting. I have no studies to point this out but I believe it is a given. Look at any picture of school, wherever it is being held (public, private, home) and someone is generally sitting at a table. Many homeschoolers move away from that a bit and utilize a sofa or love seat. All in all, either way invites lots of sitting.

I do not know about you, but in my home, I have a child who moves a lot. This kid moves so very much that it feels often as if you are in the same room as a whirlwind. The movement is so much, so overwhelming to the introverts in my family, but so very necessary for my little one. And so when the struggle to “do school” with this kid began, I found myself having to look for ways to match the learning with the energy. It was a moment when I, as teacher and parent, had to search out a solution to make a learning environment that was best for her.

I began to observe this child of mine. Really, really watch. This kid didn’t naturally gravitate towards chairs or couches. They bounded over tables, scooted under tables, ran around the island in the kitchen, and attempted to climb trees. But the one thing that was done when the child actually did stop to ponder something or examine a leaf on the ground was to squat.

Have you noticed that in your own home or with children you spend time with? They squat a lot when they are small. Play with a toy: squat on the ground. Eat a snack: squat in a chair. Look at a book: squat. It’s very natural to them, surprisingly so because most adults in the USA find it nearly impossible. These kids are not usually stopping to get up in a chair to do any of those activities. I began to wonder why it was that a child has no problem squatting as they work, why do they do it, and what happens between early childhood and adulthood to make us lose that natural inclination.

This blog post will not answer those specific questions but they were the catalyst to me learning how to change around our school days. Remember Katy? In searching for reasons for squatting, I found her blog and began to eat up the information. Her books found their way to our shelves and her posts were printed out for me to read and share with my husband. Her love of natural movement encouraged me to change how I moved about my home and while walking, and this quite naturally flowed down to encouraging my children.

We began by moving away from the table when it was time to focus on our studies. Many of us were to taught to sit in ergonomically helpful chairs and to practice proper posture. I scrapped that. The beauty of books and pencils and paper is that they can be moved wherever we need them to be. And so, my mover-and-shaker child was encouraged to sit on the floor, or lay on the tummy while reading. They are allowed to do school work wherever their little heart desires because this is what works for them. There are still lots of wiggles going on but we are working with those wiggles while learning and expending lots of energy at the same time. It really has made all the difference in the world.

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So. If your days are long and hard and energy abounds, I highly suggest getting on the floor or standing somewhere new. Maybe stand at the kitchen counter while doing math. Read aloud that funny anecdote you read online while laying on your back. Move around and take frequent breaks if that is what you or your child(ren) need to make the learning and home environment that is best for your family.

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Three Things I Wish I Had Done When I Started Homeschooling

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June will mark the end of my family’s ninth year of homeschooling. It feels longer than that but the math has been done and it doesn’t lie. This fall my oldest will begin the high-school years and goodness gracious do I feel like that is another level of insanity altogether.

Here and there, blog posts have been popping up in my Feedly account with titles such as “What I would do differently” or “Things I wish I had known.” What homeschooling parent has not thought of things they would have done differently if they had the knowledge of well-earned years? Since we cannot know what we have not yet learned, we start by doing our best and hoping it will all work out in the end.

I think it is helpful for younger homeschooling parents to learn from the older ones. Now, I have not graduated a child yet, so I can only give limited advice. If I start telling you the best way to teach the high school years, then run for the hills, because I haven’t been through that yet. But the early years I have done many many many times and so I would like to think my experience is worth something.

All that being said, here are my three top things I would have done differently:

Educated myself on different educational philosophies

My first mistake when I began homeschooling was looking at all the curricula available. What could I afford? What would be all-encompassing and fit my child’s personality perfectly? (Haha!) What would be a sure-fire way to make sure he learns to read by 4 and can draw like van Gogh at 7 while putting him on the path towards graduating from Harvard at 13?

should have started by reading up on the different educational philosophies available. You’ve heard of many of them, I’m sure: Classical, Charlotte Mason, unschooling, classroom model, unit studies, eclectic, Waldorf, Montessori, Thomas Jefferson, etc. etc. etc., breathe in and breathe out. Whoo! There is just so much out there in regards to the how and why we teach the way we do. The truth is that we can save ourselves much time and money if we can look at a curriculum and know if it will or will not fit into our chosen philosophy for home education.

Not started too early

I remember being quite eager to “start school” when my oldest was still a toddler. Curriculum purchased, I readied myself with all sorts of recommended materials. We followed that curriculum to a t, sitting at a small made-for-the-classroom table and treating the time as if we were a public school environment instead of learning at home. The natural curiosity my child had was pushed aside for my need to be the teacher. The materials I had spent time and money on became tools of instructing instead of tools to facilitate curiosity. I’d love to be able to say that I quickly learned this was not jiving with my personal educational philosophy, but unfortunately that philosophy was not yet formed. “You live, you learn” they say, whoever they may be, but by the third child, any formal curriculum for the tender young years was trashed and a mode of learning that matched my child’s maturity level and bent towards natural curiosity was used instead.

Spent more time outside

Note: If you are modeling after the public school classroom, then obviously this will go against your educational philosophy and this section will not be helpful for you.

We spent a lot of time indoors. Looking back, the majority of our days, even during the moments we were schooling, should have been outside. What better way to broach the subject of science than by observing our natural world? The sun’s rays of vitamin D are the perfect pick-me-up for the grumpies (and I’m not necessarily talking about the kids. Ahem.) Moving around and sitting somewhere new and enjoying the weather in a great, big, wide-open classroom is an amazing way to lift the spirits.

Of course, many of us don’t have the luxury of a safe place to be outdoors to learn, or maybe the weather is not conducive to the outdoor classroom. Or maybe, just maybe, you live in the land of postage stamp backyards with nothing but a bit of grass (I’m looking at YOU, North Texas!). Well, we have to make do. Open up windows or even just the blinds. Bring in artwork about nature. Find local state or national parks, city green areas, outdoor science programs. Sometimes it takes more work than we would like. But it is so worth it, I promise.

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I’d love to hear from veteran homeschooling parents what things they wished they had done before they started homeschooling. Please share in the comments section!

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Habit

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One of my resolves this year is simple: read more. Last year, Goodreads says that out of the forty books that I had challenged myself to read, I read twenty-five. Twenty-five is a decent number but my brain needs a better workout so one a week has become the challenge for 2017.

My book stack of current reads contains four books, all non-fiction. While two of those four are related – Charlotte Mason – the other two are not at all Charlotte Mason but rather a memoir/practical help book on mothering and a book on the spiritual view of habit. These books are full of depth, a deepness that challenges mental capacity and at the same time encouraging the the current vocation in my life. Last year was full of deep and overwhelming days so encouragement quite literally feels like a breath of fresh air. (By the way, I will include affiliated links to the books I mention at the bottom of this post.)

Now, originally I chose these books in order to facilitate a greater understanding of what pursuits there should be in our home. These books are a tool, a means to aid my brain in forming visions and plans to bring greater peace and cohesiveness to our daily lives. Non-fiction is beautiful to me but it has to have a purpose. It needs to be read for a reason because it generally takes more time and mental power for me to read it.

The book You Are What You Love was waiting at my library for me via interlibrary loan. I had forgotten that I ever requested it and I must have done it at least six months ago. The timing is . . . interesting. And oh my, when all four books spoke specifically on habits, over and over, this was time to pay attention and understand that maybe, just maybe, the Holy Spirit was pointing out a specific need for our family.

Habits. Why habits? It sounds boring and as if it involves menial, monotonous, laborious instruction all day long. Compound that instruction by six, my brood of half a dozen, and it utterly overwhelms.  But these habits that Charlotte spoke of, as well as the other homeschooling mom who’s book I am reading, sound practically beautiful and worthy of the effort and mama-time required to put into them.

It is so very hard to see beyond the now, the right-in-front-of-my-face work. At the same time, I am a natural visionary in that planning and looking forward to the future comes easily to me. It’s the in between, that time of steady plodding to get from point A to point B – oftentimes stopping at half-way points too many to count along the way – that stagger us and slow our feet. That is when we become the most weary and give up, hoping that we might pick it up at some other time but for goodness sake, I’m tired and haven’t I done enough?

But habits, good habits, ones that bless and create peace and help through hard times are something worth keeping-on keeping-on. There is trophy of sorts to be gained through the effort of learning new virtues and trampling underfoot vices. The benefits outweigh the exertion. The more we put into it the bigger the relief when we have said goodbye to bad habits.

I see this. Some people see it. Many do not. It is easy to put aside the formation of good in order to foster the easy. If many adults cannot grasp this, how do I teach it to my children?

Ah. That? That is the question of my life.

And so small breaks are made to ponder this while I read. There are many concrete, intellectual ways I can do this but the example I set personally for my children is the boldest and most potent means to convey to them the importance of forming good habits and eschewing bad. Easier said than done, right? And that is okay. Things were their salt are going to be worth getting there.

So start small. It is okay to start small. There are lists of virtues and good habits and if you do not like them, make your own or write down the ones found in the Sermon on the Mount or read about what love is in 1 Corinthians 13. We have to start somewhere because we will never get anywhere without that small baby step.

For me, gentleness in speech will be my first step. There are so many I could have chosen but my sarcastic bent has wrought too much destruction to allow it further reign. There is no love in constant sarcasm and so toning down my words and the way things are spoken to my loved ones seems like the best place to start.

After that? Who knows. I certain do not. My trust is in the Holy Spirit who will surely convict me of that next good habit.

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With the next post, I’ll discuss how I think habit fits into homeschooling. Until then, what are your thoughts on the importance of good habits?

Books Mentioned

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