Sounds pleasant, doesn’t it?
Now imagine this is your house.
One reality of homeschool is that we’re together all day – which is lovely – but everyone needs their own space at some point. I find that if I’m proactive about providing this instead of waiting for everyone to be at each others throats, our home is more peaceful. It’s so important to have a point in our day where we all refresh and regroup.
Silent reading is the answer.
The concept is simple: choose some books, find a cozy spot, and read for an hour.
The execution of this simple concept is an entirely different matter.
The day I announced this new addition to our schedule, I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was sure I needed to be realistic. As I’m sure you can imagine, asking three rambunctious boys aged eight and nine to sit still and read silently is, well, asking a lot. Despite their special needs though, I am convinced it CAN be done and I feel strongly that it is a habit that we need to pursue to help them be successful in life…no matter how long it takes to reach our goal.
So I laid out the plan…
1. Pick at least 5 books
This is the core to silent reading…they choose. This is a time for their love of reading to flourish; for them to find and follow their interests. This is not a time for you to check off your curriculum list. The number of books is important, too. Having a variety anticipates requests for a new book or getting bored with what they have.
What about the kids who can’t read? No worries; you don’t have to know how to read to enjoy a good book. That’s what all of those gorgeous picture books are for.
2. Tell mom
Accountability is a good thing. It keeps me from having to track them down and redirect.
3. Pick hideout
It’s important to make this one really enticing. I gave them some options to get their wheels turning…a closet, the reading nook, or even the playset outside. The only rule is they are not allowed to be close enough to see each other. That will lead to all kinds of distractions.
4. Stay put until timer goes off
Remember being realistic? The first day we did this, I set the timer for eight minutes. I have gradually added time and we are up to a half hour. My goal is to work up to an hour…uninterrupted. I want to carve out a time in our day that they can get so absorbed in a book that I have to come and get them.
5. Put books in away
When silent reading is over, the boys are in charge of putting the books back exactly where they belong. We’re still working on this one ;).
As for me, I make a fresh cup of coffee and work on this blog, tackle a project around the house or read something for myself. I will clean up if I have to BUT I try not to. The point of this hour in our day is to be restful; even if I am doing something productive, I make sure to put on one of my favorite podcasts or music so I am doing work that is still rejuvenating in some way. This is a family rest – not just one for the kids.
Wait! What about the toddler??
I knew you were wondering ;).
Ideally this would happen during nap time…if Little Miss still napped…which she doesn’t #fourthchild.
She joins us for silent reading for as long as she can (right now that’s about five minutes or so) but after that we have a few options…
- Allow her to play quietly throughout the house while the rest of us continue with rest time
- Pair her with a bigger sibling – this will only work if the sibling is willing and they can be quiet together
- Let her watch a show
Yup, a Charlotte Mason homeschooler just admitted to putting her tot in front of the tube.
Here’s the catch…the only choices are Little Einsteins (at least she’s enjoying art and music), a Scholastic DVD Collection, or the Noggin App. Calm and quiet.
After a half hour, the boys are allowed to either join her for the last half hour or continue reading. My hope is that they will eventually find her “baby shows” less worthy of their time and continue reading. As she gets older, we will phase out the show altogether but this is what is working for our family in this season.
It really is golden.