The Power of a Captive AudienceWhen I first started homeschooling, I had these read aloud fantasies. I pictured us snuggled up under blankets with a stack of delicious books at our side. I imagined reading for hours on end, my children enraptured by the story and clinging to my every word. As I read, a silence would envelop our home, and all would be calm.

In reality, our read alouds are anything but calm, and my children are anything but quiet. As I read, my children wiggle and squirm, bounce and twirl. They interrupt me constantly, peppering me with questions and random musings. I read, pause, backtrack, stop, resume. And, while it is not anything like the fantasy I held long ago, our read aloud time is special to me.

I think it is important to remember that children are by nature active learners. It is okay if your kids are burning calories while you read aloud... in fact, it's normal. It's also normal for a homeschooling parent to wonder whether your child is actually listening. Sometimes, it can feel like you are reading to yourself but, I promise you, those kiddos hear more than you'd think!

If you are worried about your read alouds, it might help to have a read aloud strategy. I have great success with reading to a captive audience during these five times.

During Meal Time

Last winter, we found ourselves in a read aloud rut. Our bedtime read alouds were anything but peaceful. They left me feeling like a failure— frazzled and frustrated. I decided to switch things up a bit and read aloud to my children first thing in the morning when everyone was fresh and happy. I called it coffee and books, and read a small stack of picture books to my kids while they ate breakfast. This ended up being such a wonderful way to start our day that we have continued the routine. It gives me a sense of success in the morning before we've started any of our more traditional homeschooling, and my children are attentive.

During Bath Time

I know that I love a bubble bath with a good book. A few years ago, it occurred to me that my children might enjoy this tradition too! I now love to read to my children when they are in the bathtub. It makes for a more peaceful bathtime experience, plus they are a captive audience!

On Car Trips

In the car, your children can't go anywhere! Pop in a fantastic audiobook, and enjoy the ride.

With an Invitation to Play

I love to set up an invitation to play in the playroom. It might be a puzzle that hasn't been used lately, a block tower, or some art supplies. Without fail, my children will stumble upon the invitation and become engaged in the activity. This is a perfect opportunity to read aloud. While their little hands are busy, they listen to my words.

In the Dark

If all else fails, I grab a flashlight and a good book and turn off the lights. There is something absolutely magical about reading in complete darkness. When the rest of the world is black, children are drawn to your words in a new way. And, you're making memories together!


About the Author

Caitlin Curley

Cait is a school psychologist, mom to three amazing children, and an unexpected homeschooler. She loves nature, good books, board games, strong coffee, and dancing in her kitchen. You can read about all of these things and more at My Little Poppies.

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