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Question: I have been thinking about this (following your recommendations more closely) and asked my children today (daughters ages 7 and 8) what they would think if we set aside math and spelling instruction for the month of January and I read aloud two hours a day (interspersed, not all at once) with periodic narrations instead. They said OH NO!

Now I don’t want to waste my breath and time and thoughtful selection of hopefully living books only to have it unappreciated or unlistened to. I told them they could do some work with their hands while I read but that didn’t seem to make much difference. We already read about an hour a day, probably 1/2 them reading aloud and 1/2 me reading aloud. I have let them crochet or draw while I read. Playing with dolls is out because their dolls always have conversations. (Really playing with dolls is no fun unless they are constantly carrying on imaginary conversations, I remember that well from my own girlhood). They like to do projects out of the A Beka Art books but these require a bit of concentration. They can read the directions and do them themselves but if it were me I couldn’t make projects like that and listen to someone reading. What does someone else think (about doing those kinds of projects during read-a-louds)? And they don’t want to do any more narration than they already do. I only have them narrate for history (we are doing Early American History — A Literature Approach for Primary Grades) and art (we are doing picture study and they have to tell about one picture every week or two). I encourage voluntary narration of other things but don’t require it. How much more narration should we go for if I increase read alouds another hour? Also I have read to them at bedtime since they were babies but if I read so much more during the day I don’t want to have to do it again at bedtime. We have been doing copywork and dictation using Learning Language Arts Through Literature. Should I even drop that for the month that we are trying out Teaching the Trivium recommendations? –Kathy

Response: I think doing short narrations twice a day is plenty, unless the child loves to do it and wants more. Maybe your girls are worried that they will have to do more narration if you read more.

Doing full fledged projects where you must read directions and concentrate would be hard to do while listening to Mom read. Just plain drawing and coloring with colored pencils or crayons and playing with clay or sewing and other handiwork are more adaptable to read aloud times. I used to buy sacks full of matting board scraps from the local art store, and those with tape and scissors and markers would keep children busy for quite a while. Sometimes it’s just a matter of getting into the habit of doing things. Reading aloud is important, and two hours a day of read-alouds doesn’t seem overly much. Perhaps you could read aloud one and a half hours during the day and your husband could read half an hour at night. I would keep up the copywork. Of course, these times are just suggestions. Adjust these as your family schedule requires. I personally could never read aloud at night. I was just too tired to do it. –Laurie


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