The past few months have been crazy for me: starting a new writing job just before the global covid-19 lockdown happened, then starting our own homeschool this June, while also hand-holding an unprecedented number of Iloilo City homeschooling families, many of whom were forced to homeschool because of the pandemic, that a lot of things went on hold. Understandably. (Oh, including this blog!)
One of these things that ended up being put on pause was my bedtime read-aloud with my 8-year-old Sammy.
Thankfully, a couple of months ago, I found a book on the Ambleside Online Free Read list that caught his attention: The Enormous Egg by Oliver Butterworth, simply because it was about a dinosaur!
Now, Sammy has always loved our nightly read-alouds. His absolute favorite has been the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. From the time we read Little House in the Big Woods, he would always beg for one more chapter, one more chapter, and one more chapter! But it was my own busy schedule that stopped our routine. And, perhaps, my “excuse” that he didn’t really “need” it since we already read so much for our “school”!
Looking back, I smile ruefully at that mindset! Perhaps I needed to remind myself of this point:
Why is reading aloud important?
Research shows that the best way to raise up a child that loves to read is to read aloud to him way before he’s able to read for himself. That’s definitely one reason why it’s important for me!
But I have two more reasons that I love just as much. One is that reading together is a great bonding experience for parent and child. Although we read together for our school lessons, when it’s something called “free reads” (a term that AO uses to refer to books that you read in your free time), it feels more relaxed and makes it a great way to bond for us.
My third reason is the power of story. Charlotte Mason tells us to feed our children’s minds with living ideas, and they get these from the books that we read.
I love how Sally Clarkson discusses something very similar to Charlotte Mason’s principles about stories, in her book The Life-Giving Home, about how these stories that we feed our children become their pictures of how heroic they can also be in their own lives.
Scheduling Read-Alouds Into Our Day
So when Sammy begged to read The Enormous Egg together, I gave in, thinking I would do it, say, just a couple of nights a week, and just one chapter per night. That felt doable!
But guess what? He remembered that we had also already started On the Banks of Plum Creek a while back and didn’t get to continue. So he started begging to read the two books—and for some reason, I found myself agreeing!
And at first, I admit I ploughed through the two books only because I promised to lend The Enormous Egg within a few weeks to Sam’s best friend who was also homeschooling and using the same AO year. (Here was my homeschooling coach hat popping up!)
But do you know what happened? Instead of feeling more tired like I had expected, especially reading several chapters per night, I found myself feeling refreshed! Thank God for Charlotte Mason-approved living books! They’re not only fun to read aloud, they also awaken my own heart and mind with the rich ideas in them! (I can’t get enough of the Little House books myself haha.)
That, along with other stuff in my life, got me rethinking about my priorities. Yes, I have a new writing job that I love and would love to excel in and honor. And yes, I also have the amazing privilege of training and coaching other homeschooling families as the Family Facilitator of Living Pupil Homeschool Solutions here in my city. I love sharing my passion about the Charlotte Mason method, and I’m honored to have this responsibility!
But primarily, I have the awesome privilege of raising up my own children to their full potential.
Because of that realization, plus the fact that I found it highly enjoyable and energizing to myself, I decided to prioritize our nightly read-alouds, as much as possible.
So we’re happily back in our routine, with Sammy hurrying up with his chores after dinner so he could have ample time for our story. And I also hurry up to finish my work so that I won’t have to put in extra hours after dinner.
And we’re all so much the better for it!
How about you? What book are you reading with your child right now? Share them in the comments below!