Shared and Independent Reading

I was recently invited by the Learning Well Community to share my story on their Instagram page (@learningwell) -- my "Day in the Life" as a veteran home school parent (#lwdayinthelife). If you know me, you know I wrote many more ideas than I could include on small Instagram posts, so I decided to turn these expanded reflections into blogs for those who would like to read more. I was asked to discuss how I planned our days, what curriculum I used, what I learned, and my regrets and successes. Since it is now summer, I began with my summers . . .  

All summer I would plan our home school year. I always started with History.

I am, by nature, a "big picture" person...so I knew that I wanted our big picture to combine History and Language Arts, that I wanted us to have authentic experiences with science and nature, and that I wanted us to have time to be creative and social.

Every summer I would spend my time planning for the next year. I would select my time in history, and I would scour the catalogs and my friend/mentor's library for ideas. I would read for myself to gain a general idea of the time period, then I would build around two reading mediums: read aloud time and independent reading time. Our read aloud time would be me reading literature to all the kids while snuggled on the couch, and me reading expository text that taught us about the time and period. If it was boring to me, we looked elsewhere. If it was boring to them, likewise. I knew I couldn’t cover everything about a particular time-period and I didn’t try. Mostly, we had big, juicy conversations (as Brave Writer likes to say). The kids would have independent reading books that fit the time-period somehow—and these would be sprinkled throughout the year.

Shared and Independent Reading homeschool.jpg

My kids were always a part of the planning conversations. They knew they would have a great deal of personal/fun reading time, too, so the idea of assigned reading was generally a positive notion. I love to read, so I always have a stack of books by my bedside. My kids looked forward to seeing their own pile of books grow (and they loved the bookstore and library excursions)! They were generally assigned one book per month—books only at their solid comfortable reading level. I found that many of the home school programs tend to push the grade levels, so I generally looked a year or two below grade level. I didn’t want to overwhelm them. I wasn’t worried because our read aloud stories would expose them to higher grammar and vocabulary levels. I wanted their independent reading to be manageable and enjoyable. This definitely paid off--when my kids went back to traditional high school, they were reading above grade level!

I knew as a reading therapist that silent reading is only helpful if kids can read accurately and fluently. Otherwise it is an exercise in pretending or guessing—which is unhelpful. I wanted their assigned reading to be at a level they could read proficiently!

~Rita