There is no question that one of the single most important skills to teach our kids is to read. I would argue that it is not only our job to teach them HOW to read, but more importantly to LOVE to read. The amount kids read has a direct relationship to better scores on standardized tests and an easier time with grammar, spelling, and writing. As we approach the summer months, how can we motivate them to spend part of their days reading and not lose all of those skills we have worked so hard on during the school year?
When my oldest daughter entered middle school, I wanted to discuss the books she was reading. When I was a kid, I loved to read and even more, I loved to discuss the books I was reading. It helped me to discover details that I missed and look at the story from a little different perspective. So I began a quest to find curriculum that would serve as a basis for these discussions. Kolbe Academy has an extensive literature program with reading comprehension questions as well as paper ideas. Rainbow Resource has Christian Novel Studies that include questions, vocabulary, recipes (in some cases), and background information. I own parts of each of these program, but for sheer money-saving purposes, I felt that I needed to write some of my own.
Around this time of year as I think about Christmas shopping, I know I have to tackle the toy closet in order to make room for more stuff. However, one look at our toy storage, which is a dangerous undertaking, makes me want to revolt against plastic toys, toys that need batteries, toys with a million little pieces, and toys in general. The thought of having to buy even more toys makes me feel like this:
Big-Sis wrote another book!
One of the best things about wholesome books is their ability to exemplify and inspire heroic virtue. Here is a list of ten books featuring girls who undergo great difficulties with fortitude and selflessness. All highly recommended by Big Sis!
One of the luxuries of a childhood summer is having the time to get lost in a book. You know a book is really engrossing when a boy doesn’t come for lunch because he just can’t stop reading. Here is a list of chapter books that All-Star and Feisty couldn’t put down:
I can never seem to find enough good books for my children. My daughter can devour an entire chapter book in a day or two. My sons can, too, but they tend to be more picky. Or perhaps there just isn’t a whole lot of wholesome quality literature written for boys between the ages of 8 and 12. Unfortunately, many books written nowadays just don’t make the cut. I want my kids to read books that will inspire and ennoble them, books that show them what it is to be heroic, courageous, and generous, books that help them develop a moral compass while appealing to their imagination. Books that preach without preaching.
So here is where I go when I’m treasure seeking:
When I look at the major Catholic homeschooling curriculum providers to see what they recommend for reading comprehension during the elementary years, I find a lot of variance. On one end of the spectrum, Mother of Divine Grace simply encourages narrations and discussions of books read, and on the other end, Kolbe Academy requires that their students answer in-depth chapter-by-chapter reading comprehension questions for classic novels. In the middle, Catholic Heritage Curricula and Seton offer reading comprehension workbooks. Seton also requires their registered students to write book reports.
With so much discrepancy, it is hard to know what is the best approach to reading comprehension. But here are some thoughts:
Once your child is ready and willing (at least most of the time!) to learn how to read, the third key to the door of literacy is easy to obtain.
Back in the days when I was a piano teacher, I had to teach children as young as five to read music. For most children, learning to read music is even more challenging than learning to read words. A single note has pitch, duration, volume, and articulation. When you give a child a string of notes to read in the treble clef and a completely different set of notes to read in the bass clef, you are asking the child to process several things at once. A lot of mental exertion is needed, so much so that the only way to learn the music is by repetition, repetition, repetition.