We homeschool for a few different reasons. The primary ones are that we have an international calling, so it lends itself well to our autonomous schedule, it's an excellent education, and--maybe most importantly--the kids and I both really enjoy it.
This is our 8th year homeschooling (minus the time the kids were in Czech public school, during which we did minimal American homeschool on the side) and we've always used Sonlight Curriculum. The main reason we love it is that it's literature based. That means that instead of reading a lot of textbooks we read novels that teach us history and even science (yes, we have textbooks, but the novels carry a ton of weight in driving home our lessons). The stories are rich, memorable, and make a lasting impression on our kids (and me!). They sort of communicate the feeling of times and places, beckoning us to enter into eras and places far beyond ourselves. It's much better than dry timelines.
Last week, while listening to an Al Mohler podcast, I was reminded anew of the importance of reading to my kids and I was thankful again that we homeschool and specifically use Sonlight. Mohler sited an article that appeared in the Wall Street Journal on March 30, 2016 by Clare Annsberry:
Most children can read independently, if slowly, by the end of first grade. Once they do, many parents quit reading to them. Nearly one in four parents of children ages 6 to 17 stopped reading out loud to their children before they were 9, saying their child was old enough to do so independently, according to Scholastic Corp.’s Kids & Family Reading Report, released in 2015. The survey, of 2,558 parents and children, found many children wished the parents hadn’t stopped. Eight in 10 children ages 6 to 17 said they loved or liked being read aloud to because it is a special time together with their parents. Among children ages 6 to 11, 40% wished their parents would continue.
It turns out the vast majority of kids--80%--love being read aloud to! Parents, don't stop! Once your child can read on his or her own, you're not off the hook. Keep up this precious daily ritual. Reading novels together will carve out memories and quality time afforded in no other way.
I even still read out loud to my oldest daughter who is 18. When she is home with us, both Mark and I start new books and read them to all of the kids, including her. She enjoys it as much as the younger ones do!
We love reading together so much that we're now actually famous for it. The photo below is of me reading "God's Smuggler" to the girls while sitting at a park overlooking Brno. The book is Brother Andrew's account of smuggling bibles across Eastern Europe when it was under communist control and the Gospel and bibles were illegal. He even describes pastors who were imprisoned in Brno for having and sharing bibles during that dark time in history. We entered the photo in Sonlight's photo competition. We didn't win, but they did decide to use it as the first page of their World History curriculum for middle schoolers. Let me know if you want an autographed copy. Ha!
Now go read to your kids--80% of them want you to!