Neil Shenvi - Apologetics

Homeschool Tip #2 - Push Reading First

Homeschool Tips
  1. Have a Schedule
  2. Push Reading First
  3. Schedule 1-on-1 Time
  4. Use Technology
  5. Embrace Educational Standards
  6. Teach Outside of School
  7. Relax

This piece of advice is exceptionally important for families with more than one child being homeschooled. When we began homeschooling, our oldest son was 5 and his younger sisters were 3 and 1. Every afternoon, the two girls would nap and I would have two hours to devote entirely to him, which was more than enough for him to finish all of his work for kindergarten. Homeschooling was a piece of cake.

Things became a bit more challenging when he moved to 1st grade, his younger sister entered kindergarten, and we had our second son. Fortunately, our eldest was already a great reader and could be given workbooks to do while I taught his sister. It wasn't until this year, when the three eldest were all in school, that I realized how vital reading is.

Because of her October birthday, our older daughter was not as fluent a reader as her brother when she entered 1st grade. Unfortunately, that meant that I could not hand her a math or spelling or reading workbook and tell her to finish four pages. If I did, I would be interrupted every thirty seconds with shouts of "Daddy! Daaaa-aaaa-ddddy! I don't know what to do." It was almost impossible to do anything, whether playing with the little kids, or cleaning, or helping my son with his work. Even her progress in other subjects was limited by her reading ability. Reading is not just another subject in school; it is the way to learn every other subject. So, as quickly as you possibly can, teach your children to read fluently and to follow written directions.

Reading for pleasure is the best way to improve reading ability. I am convinced that our older son's reading was rapidly accelerated by his desire to understand the Super Smash Bros. Brawl instruction manual that came with a Wii game we purchased when he was 5. He would pour over the booklet for hours each night trying to decipher phrases like "Fireball Attack" and "Rocketbarrell Barrage." That's not to say that you should encourage your kids to read all twenty installments of the Captain Underpants series since "it's teaching them love for reading!" But I don't discourage #1 from reading our four-volume collection of The Complete Calvin and Hobbes for the third time, even if I'd prefer him reading something with a bit more educational or literary value.

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>> Next: Tip #3, Schedule 1-on-1 Time

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If anyone reading this essay has questions about it or about Christianity in general, feel free to e-mail me at Neil -AT- I also highly recommend the book The Reason for God by Tim Keller. It is phenomenal. Free sermons treating many of the topics covered by this book can be found here.

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