Summer is a great time to encourage reading!

Teaching Tip:

Summer is a great time to encourage reading!

While it is important to take time off during the school year, summer is a great time to encourage reading. The long, lazy days of summer just beg for you to curl up with an ice cold glass of lemonade or iced tea and a book!

How can you encourage your children to read this summer?

One way to encourage your children to read this summer is by example. If you read this summer, and your children see you reading, they will be encouraged to read! One way we have done this at our house is to set aside time as a family to read.

Have a family “reading time.”

Last summer, we set aside 30 minutes in the evenings after dinner as family “reading time.” We gathered together in our living room with our individual books and read silently. We set the timer, and when it rang… we were done. At the end of reading time, sometimes a few family members shared something about what they’d read. But mostly, we just read. We enjoyed this time so much as a family that we carried it into our school year!

These days we steadily get to reading time about 4-5 nights a week. Sometimes the boys don’t want to take time out of their busy schedules to read. Yet, when we do take time to read, all of us seem to end up enjoying it. My husband and I really look forward to reading time. I finished several books this year I never would have found time to read had it not been for reading time!

What types of books will tempt your children to read this summer?

Summer seems to be a time for a different kind of reading. If you’ve ever walked through a book store in the summer, you will notice tables of books labeled “beach reads.” These are books that are easy to read on a beach or outdoors somewhere. They often are absorbing books you can take breaks from, return to, and easily be caught up in again. Books like this also work well for the family “reading time” I described above. Sometimes “beach reads” have a lighter, more carefree feel to them. Other times they have a brisk and thrilling pace. Overall, they are enjoyable, easy to read, and have simpler phrasing and diction. They are books that are just less work to read.

Series books work well for summer reading.

Summer can be a great time for series books. Series books often have the “beach read” feel. They have simpler phrasing and diction, have similar plots, follow a definite pattern, and require much less work to read because you already know the characters. Plus, if your child gets invested in a series, he/she can just keep on reading from one book to the next. Of course, not all series books are good. Many are not. So, you’ll have to use discernment to discover the series books that are acceptable for your family.

Take time to cultivate the habit of summer reading.

Time spent cultivating the habit of summer reading is time well spent. We’ve discovered our children curled up reading on the couch, reading in their beds, reading in the bath, and reading late at night. They started a book during “reading time” and just had to know what happened next! Try a family reading time and see what you think. Who knows, you may find yourself burning the midnight oil to find out what happens next in your book too!


How much “together time” is beneficial?

Teaching Tip: 

How much “together time” is beneficial?

In my last teaching tip, I mentioned how we can always be assured of plenty of “together time” in a homeschooling setting! One thing to weigh is how much “together time” is truly beneficial? Often as homeschool teachers, we default into thinking that anything done together is better. Often we think that knowledge shared in a group is better, because it is shared.

How do you learn best?

Think through the way that you learn best. Would you say that the “group experience” is the only way or the best way for you to learn? I know for me this isn’t necessarily true.

Be specific in choosing which experiences are shared.

This is why it is important to be specific in choosing which experiences are shared and which ones are individual. Sometimes experiences are shared only between teacher and one student.

What kind of experiences are best done one-on-one?

Personal/private sharing is best done one-on-one. Difficult subjects are best done one-on-one. Subjects that require concentrated attention are best done with few interruptions.

Make a conscious choice about how to handle each subject.

Try making a conscious choice about which subjects are best as a group experience and which subjects are best one-on-one. This specific choosing will make each subject more meaningful. It will also help each subject be better suited to your students’ needs! Try make conscious choices today, and see if your school day goes more smoothly!


Do you have too much together time?

Teaching Tip:

Do you have too much together time?

When homeschooling your family, typically there is automatically plenty of “together time.” It is interesting to think about how constructive some of that “together time” really is. Sometimes there can be too much together time! Just as adults crave time alone, students do too. When we as teachers make everything a group activity, school can quickly fall into the category of too much together time.

Choose group activities wisely.

It is important to actually choose when to have an activity together and when to have students work alone. There definitely should be some subjects where a student is able to work alone in a quiet environment.

Be creative in finding quiet work spaces for your children.

You might have to get a bit creative in finding space for your students to have quiet work time alone. I know we had to use my bedroom for one of our older students as a work space! At the time, it was the only quiet spot in our busy household of boys!

Train your children to make good use of their quiet work time.

Often students need to be trained to make good use of their quiet work time. It is wise to keep track of your students when they are first trying to work alone. To help me keep track of my students, I sent my boys up to their quiet space with a timer. The timer was set for the length of time their work was supposed to take. I also set a corresponding timer downstairs to remind me to check on the child after the allotted time. When the timer rang, the child had to check in with me. If the child hadn’t successfully progressed, then he had to work near me for the next subject. This helped train my children to make good use of their quiet work time.

Train your children to be diligent workers.

Through this process, my boys have learned to crave a quiet work environment and to be diligent, independent workers. Try training your children to work alone, and see if they learn to desire a quiet work space too! You may find that when you balance together time and alone time your students will be more attentive during group time too.


Homeschooling promotes the family as a unit and creates strong ties that last!

From Our House to Yours

Why homeschool? Homeschooling promotes the family as a unit and creates strong ties!

My dad attended a small country school from kindergarten to 8th grade. He had about 12-15 children in his school. Only 1 or 2 students were his same age, and 1 teacher taught them all. Dad rode his horse to school. When he arrived, he would tell his horse to ‘go home.’ The horse would obediently head back home on his own. Children took their lunches to school. They would play baseball, even though they were short players. They would play board games and improvise rules, as they had a wide range of ages. At the end of the day, Dad’s parents would tell his horse to ‘go to school.’ The horse would obediently head back, so Dad could ride him home. The children in country school were like one family that learned to look out and care for one another. They formed strong ties that last still today!

Homeschooling promotes the family as a unit and has strong ties that last!

As little girls, my sisters and I used to pretend we were teaching in Dad’s country schoolhouse. We had chalkboards, books, paper, and one filing cabinet we covered with blue and white checked contact paper. What fun we had! We only had a class of 3, but we loved every minute of ‘school.’ Real (or public) school was alright, but not nearly as much fun. Class sizes were big and the homey feeling was gone. How we missed our one-room schoolhouse at home! Maybe that is why all 3 of us girls decided to homeschool, or maybe it was because our best ‘teacher’ was always our mom. In homeschooling, our family works together as a unit. We form strong ties, and we look out for one another.

In homeschooling, strong family ties can last long past the homeschooling!

My dad has now passed away, but he used to love getting together with past classmates at the All School Reunion. In fact, he actually attended the reunion more than 50 years! When my dad and mom moved to town, my dad surprised my mom by coming home and saying he’d invited his whole class over. There weren’t that many, but still! Even though my dad’s passed away, my mom still gets invited to the reunions, even though she really didn’t attend the school. I guess she just became part of the ‘family.’ In homeschooling, we may not have the ‘right’ number of people or the ‘right’ age of people for everything, but we improvise, and we have all the more fun! Everyone is part of the ‘school.’ No one is left out. And that kind of bond creates strong family ties that last, long past the homeschooling.

In Christ,