My children are now ages 18- 10 and homeschooling has greatly changed over the years. I have no more babies or toddlers running around the house. Everyone is reading fluently and independently. Sometimes I forget how challenging homeschooling was in the earlier years.
One particular memory I have is of teaching my youngest son to read. By this time, I had already taught two children to read so I had my system in place. One thing you will learn about me, is that I need life to be super simple. Once I have something that works, no need to change. I love being creative and spontaneous, but some things just need to work with little thought on my part.
Anyway… my youngest son was about 5 years old and an active little boy. He loved running, jumping, and playing–like most boys do. Everyday we would sit down to do his reading lesson, and it was like medieval torture for both of us! He would dread the time. I would threaten, and push my way through this time. I knew it had to be done. I wanted him to enjoy it, but regardless he needed to learn to read.
It wasn’t hard for him. There were no reading issues. He just didn’t like sitting down for this “boring” lesson.
Somehow, I was given this great idea. Incorporate movement into our reading lesson. And let me tell you, it was genius! Instead of us sitting on the couch or laying across my bed to read, we went out into the back yard. He would sit on the swing as he read a list of words. Once he completed a certain amount of reading, he would be allowed to swing for a certain time. I made it so fun that reading stopped being torture, and it became a game. Read a little. Move a little. Read again. Move again.
He was able to keep his little body still and his mind focused for short periods of time because he would be able to do something that he loved–move! This kid still loves to move, and He LOVES to read! He quite an avid reader now.
So be encouraged, my friend. You can teach that active kid of yours to read successfully. Here are a few more ideas that you can use today:
- Read a story to your child, and stop reading at climax of the story. Leave a cliff hanger, then have them read. They’ll be more motivated to read since they will want to know what happened. This would be a great time to check on a sibling, or do something else you may need to do.
- Turn work into a game. When reading a page of sentences, I would give my children clues about the sentence. But then they would have to read the sentence in order to discover what I was referring to. For example, I might say, “You do this some mornings.” The sentence might say something like, “I eat toast for breakfast.” Or I might say, “Your brother really likes this.” Then they would have to read the sentence to find out what their brother likes. My children really loved this! It turned a boring page of sentences into a game.
- Alternate focused work with active play. Have your children read for a certain period of time. Say 5 minutes. Then let them swing, or jump rope, or roll on the floor or hop, or play with legos or draw or play a game or whatever. You may want to set a timer so it doesn’t get out of hand. Then back to focused work again.
- Have them move while they work. I used to allow my children to jump rope while spelling words, or skate while working on memory work, or jump on the trampoline. Also just having a kid squeeze a ball while sitting still or sitting on those big exercise balls instead of chair, or bouncing a bouncy ball is enough movement to keep them focused.
- Use several shorter, focused lessons rather than one long lesson.
- Use a timer. I have found that this is so key to productive and focused work. The timer allows your child to see that there is an end in sight. It also keeps you from going on and on and on. Personally, I have no concept of the passage of time and I can go on for long periods of time and not realize how long it’s been. Using a timer, helps us both to stay focused for short periods of time, and actually accomplish more in less time.
- Read to them alot. Having stories read to them and seeing people read instills in them a love for reading and learning. See my previous post for more on this.
If you’re struggling to teach an active kid, take one of these ideas and use it today. No need for you to pull any more of your hair out. 😉