In certain homeschool circles, audiobooks have a bad reputation. Listening to a book is considered a sub-par educational activity to silent reading.
I find that to be nonsense. Audiobooks provide benefits to all listeners and can be especially beneficial to struggling readers.
How can audiobooks benefit your homeschool and family?
Support Skills of Emerging Readers
How can it help reading skills if they aren’t reading?
- Listening to an audiobook allows them to hear fluent reading. This will help when they read aloud.
- It allows them to notice how punctuation affects the meaning of a passage and how we hear written conversation.
- They notice whether someone reads too fast or too slow. As a result, they can become better at controlling their own pace.
All of these things will help them to become better readers.
Eases Objections from Fluent Readers
The length of Jane Eyre or The Odyssey can deter the best of us from picking them up. I’ve yet to finish Anna Karenina after numerous attempts.
Perhaps I should try an audiobook?
Audiobooks can help the child who might be discouraged by the sheer length of a book. For other children, reading unfamiliar dialects can impede their enjoyment and understanding.
In addition, an audiobook an expose a child to another genre or style of writing that they wouldn’t otherwise experience.
Benefits Struggling Readers
The use of audiobooks separates decoding from content and comprehension. This is a benefit for the struggling reader.
By using audiobooks, a struggling reader is not left to wallow in content woefully behind her capabilities. Listening to books strengthens comprehension. It also expands vocabulary and background knowledge. And it removes the frustration of decoding.
In the long run, this can only help a struggling reader.
Help for Homeschool Moms
Audiobooks can also lighten the homeschool mom load. I remember the year I was trying to cover three different levels of a literature-based curriculum with my three oldest daughters.
What was I thinking?
Audiobooks bridge the divide. They allow my children to listen to books on their schedule, not just when I’m available.
The older my children get restless the more time we spend in the van. Audiobooks can make otherwise wasted time more beneficial.
On a road trip last year we listened to Matilda, by Roald Dahl. We had a fantastic time together.
We often listen to short chapters from a history book while driving to our homeschool co-op. They can’t jump up and head to the kitchen for a snack while we’re driving down the road. Therefore, you can use that time to your advantage.
Go ahead and play the classic you’ve intended on reading.
Maybe all those reasons aren’t convincing you to include audiobooks in your homeschool. You still feel like you’re cheating just a little.
That’s fine. Don't add them because of any educational benefit. Rather, add them because they’re enjoyable.
Listening to a book as a family can lead to great memories and conversations. You can find your favorite narrator or author. You also listen to the same book repeatedly because everyone delights in the story.
Enjoy the Benefits of Audiobooks
Don’t allow homeschool bias keep you from using and enjoying audiobooks in your homeschool. My children have gone to bed for years playing books.
It has helped their vocabulary, imagination, and ability to recall information. It has even inspired them to read aloud to each other when a sequel was unavailable on audio.
A win for sibling relationships.
Since we have so many tools at our disposal as home educators, let use them all.
About the Author
Bethany is the mom of six always homeschooled children who one day realized she'd lost herself in the process, probably under a pile of laundry. Her eclectic style of relaxed homeschooling draws upon classical to unschooling methods and everything in between.
While homeschooling her children, teaching at a Project Based Co-op, and writing about learning outside of school, she still tries to find time to read a book, drink coffee, and pay the bills. Read more from Bethany on her site BethanyIshee.com: Real inspiration for the authentic mom.