Updated: Oct 15
When the world “shut down,” parents in many homes found themselves with a title for which they were not trained nor prepared to have. HOME SCHOOL EDUCATOR. This was different than helping with homework or an occasional project. What happened in 2020 put parents in the role of pushing their children, now students, to take academic risks and learn new, hard things while managing work and the stress of a global pandemic. More than a few tears and break downs occurred in my home. My boys also shed a few. 😊
We had to find new and creative ways to get our “students” excited to learn and do the work. I have always loved to read, but my three boys have slowly grown to hate/like/love it. It really depends on the day! Here are a few ideas I’ve used over the years to boost reading skills and foster a love for reading, all while spending time with my kids at home.
RECIPES – My youngest has always liked to bake breakfast items with me. He was a very reluctant reader, but he didn’t realize he was reading the entire box with step by step directions every time! Sometimes, we would look up recipes online and read a few before sticking to the box recipe I had on hand. Tricky? I say effective.
DICTATED STORIES – Does your child have a good imagination? Have her dictate stories to you as you write/type them, and then have her read it out loud to you. This a great way to practice reading and the editing process as they hear where changes need to be made when they read aloud. Now they are an author! Give it a title and some artwork, and they’ve written a book. I love to use the free version of Flipsnack.com to scan and “publish” writings so they will flip pages on the screen like a book. We have also just printed images we found online and glued them to folded pages to make books. I have many of these gems saved for memories in the future.
ART/CRAFT PROJECT - We loved to do art activities when my guys were in elementary. Many of the craft ideas you find online come with DIRECTIONS! Again, they are reading without the pressure of a chapter book. Another idea in this arena is drawing pictures or cartoons and captioning them. Have your child then read the “picture book” aloud to you or a younger sibling. Nothing builds confidence like reading to a younger child. Even my 6th and 7th graders used to beam with self-confidence when reading to our Pre-K students on-site at our middle school.
READ ALOUD – My father read to me and my younger siblings almost every night through middle school. Yes, middle school! We even read the dictionary sometimes. I think I can honestly give him all the credit for my love of reading and writing. Children associate that one on one time with parents with joy and security. If you mix books into that time, it creates positive memories associated with reading. As my boys got older, we took turns reading pages which slowly built their confidence as readers. I miss those days with my 10th grader!
It is hard not to worry about backslide or the regression many of our children might have made with the loss of school and teacher led instruction. Honestly, it was a big stressor for me in the beginning of this pandemic. Now I have changed my focus and have been able to find the silver linings. My boys have gotten used to, and seem to prefer, all of us being together. I have gained many moments with them I wouldn’t have had with the hectic schedule we were running. We have played cards, read books, and written some stories. My 16-year-old son called me yesterday just to ask when I would be home. That was a first. I will take the memories and the closeness we have found the last 6 months over reading scores Every. Single. Time.
Amie Dean has been a classroom teacher, consultant, and behavioral interventionist over the last 26 years. She is mom to three boys who allow her to practice what she preaches daily. Amie is the author of 2 children’s books: Your Happy Heart: How Helping Others Helps You, Too, and There’s No Dream Too Tall.
Learn more about Amie at www.behaviorqueen.com.