Excellent reading skills are essential to academic success in all subjects, and the benefits don't stop at school’s end. Reading comprehension skills and proficiency will carry our children to future success in the workforce and beyond. While teaching a solid reading curriculum is the first step to teaching a child how to read, a critical step in the process is fostering a love of reading.
Renowned children’s author Kate DiCamillo, author of the book Because of Winn-Dixie, provides an excellent perspective: “Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or a duty. It should be offered to them as a precious gift.”
One of the benefits of homeschooling your children is greater flexibility in your time and more choice in deciding what’s important for your family’s learning. Homeschool can be the ideal environment to joyfully encourage reading.
Research shows a strong correlation between reading enjoyment and reading proficiency. Children who enjoy reading are exposed to more text than their peers, and frequent reading provides more practice and increases reading ability. In a nutshell, children and adults who love to read have higher academic success and better reading comprehension skills than those who don’t.
Prioritize reading for pleasure in your homeschooling
Children who are encouraged to regularly read for enjoyment experience a multitude of lifelong benefits, such as:
- Increased vocabulary: Most of a child’s vocabulary is learned through indirect exposure rather than direct teaching, the bulk of which is captured through reading. Researchers agree that the more words our children are exposed to, the stronger their cognitive abilities are.
- Greater knowledge about the world: Reading exposes our children to all kinds of facts and scenarios about the world around us. Children and adults who are avid readers score better on general knowledge tests than those who read less.
- Increased comprehension skills: The adage “practice makes progress” also applies to reading. The more you read, the better you get. Reading for pleasure is not a waste of time but a valued step in becoming a better reader. Considering better readers tend to read more, the benefits continue spiraling.
- Opportunities to connect: Reading together with your child opens doors for connection and discussion.
- Promotes diversity and emotional intelligence: Books open up the world to children and can provide great opportunities to talk about diversity, inclusion, and tackling big feelings and emotions in response to the character’s struggles.
- Increase positive reading experiences: Unfortunately, many reluctant readers avoid reading due to past negative experiences in school. Just as better readers tend to read more, struggling readers are exposed to far less text than their peers. Reading enjoyable, self-chosen books for fun and not only reading assigned pieces for skill practice gives your child the gift of positive reading experiences.
- Increased reading fluency: Reading fluency is the ability to read a text with the proper intonation, speed, and cadence of a natural reader. Although many people think of fluency only as reading speed, experts know that reading fluency is the bridge to excellent comprehension skills. Any time spent reading for pleasure is a step toward improved reading fluency.
Reading throughout homeschooling advantages
While reading for pleasure has taken a back seat in many public schools, homeschooling provides greater flexibility in reading time.
Many public school teachers are required to balance the demands of district-required skill-and-drill standardized test practice, which often becomes a negative reading experience for students. While reading for pleasure shouldn't replace a strong reading curriculum in homeschool, the flexibility of homeschool scheduling and fewer demands allow more freedom to pursue reading for fun.
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Easy ways to foster a lifelong love of reading in homeschooling
Developing a lifelong love of reading in your child doesn't have to be difficult. A simple perspective change in prioritizing reading and motivating your child makes a difference. Here are a few ways to nurture a lifelong reader:
Although independent reading time is no longer a priority in most public schools, spending time reading is never a waste. Through homeschooling, you have the flexibility to prioritize independent reading time. Build reading time into your homeschool schedule for lifelong benefits.
Modeling engaged reading for your child teaches that reading is an activity worth pursuing. Modeling for young, pre-reading children will include dedicating time to read aloud to them, pointing out pictures, and talking about the story. For independent readers, show your children you value reading by reading your own book with them during independent reading time. Children learn by seeing. Model excitement over reading new books and watch your child get excited with you!
Provide many book options
A well-stocked homeschool library offers many independent reading opportunities, but it doesn’t have to be expensive. Join your public library and regularly visit as a homeschool “field trip” to get new books. Get your kids excited about the trip and make it fun!
Guide children to on-level texts
When reading aloud to a child, you have more flexibility in choosing texts at any difficulty level. For independent reading time and times your child will be reading aloud to you, it’s important to select books that aren’t too difficult for your child to decode. Give your child confidence through many positive reading experiences by guiding them to appropriate reading levels.
Make reading time less of a chore by giving your children choices as much as possible. Letting kids pick books they are interested in increases their motivation to read, which in turn increases the amount of time spent reading.
Tips for homeschool preschool reading
This critical time of language and vocabulary acquisition is the perfect time to prioritize and enjoy reading together.
- Model a love of reading and connect with your child by animatedly reading aloud.
- Engage your children by talking, reading, and singing daily to increase word exposure.
- Enroll your child in the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program at your local library, and your child can earn rewards for every 100 books.
- Attend your local library’s storytime programs.
- Help your child find books about their favorite topics or characters.
How Outschool can help your preschool reader
Teaching your preschool child to love reading doesn’t have to fall entirely on your shoulders. Outschool has an ever-changing library of online classes catering just to your preschool learner.
- Join a storytime class on Outschool. Filter by age and search “storytime” to find a class featuring content to read, sing, and discuss with your child. Your child will see their Outschool teacher light up with the joy of reading and get motivated as well!
- Search and find a preschool book club on Outschool and watch your little learner enjoy listening to books with friends.
- Find an Outschool class featuring a themed storytime on a topic your child loves. For example, this dinosaur storytime class is sure to motivate and engage your tiny future paleontologist.
Once your child can decode easy readers on their own, a new frontier begins in unlocking the joy of reading.
- Choose texts at or below your child’s reading level for independent reading and child read-aloud time to decrease frustration. As their confidence builds, you can increase the difficulty level.
- Continue to read aloud to your child. Storytime shouldn’t be over once a child learns to read. Confidently reading aloud helps promote a positive connection with reading and models reading fluency.
- Take turns reading. If reading an entire book seems daunting to your child, take turns reading every other page.
How Outschool can help your early reader
Outschool features classes taught by experienced teachers to help your early reader gain confidence and learn to love reading.
- Find a themed reading class, such as this animal reading comprehension class, that will build skills while catering to your child’s interests.
- Search for small group reading classes and see reading skills taught in a dynamic and fun way.
- Join a book club on Outschool.
Once your child is confident in reading longer chapter books, now’s the time to amplify the joy of reading.
- Model reading together. If a child sees parents reading for pleasure regularly, they will be motivated to do the same.
- Get your child excited about books. Find a series they love and help them get excited and motivated to read more.
- Build reading time into the day.
How Outschool can help your independent reader
Make reading fun by finding exciting, reading-focused classes on Outschool.
- Find an interest-based class to get your child excited about reading. This Minecraft reading class teaches reading strategies based on the popular game.
- Join a book club on Outschool. Transform your typical novel study and make it more fun by reading a chapter book with friends and a teacher on Outschool.
With the advent of smartphones and technology, reading is taking a backseat for this generation's teens. According to Common Sense Media, 32% of teens report reading for pleasure less than once per month. Public school teachers are finding it more and more challenging to provide in-class reading time, but as a homeschool parent, you have the flexibility to prioritize reading for your teen.
- Build time into your homeschool schedule to read for fun. Your teenager will enjoy the break from challenging subjects, while you can be assured of the lifelong benefits gained during this time.
- Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling states: “If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book.” That statement is never more true than with a teenager. Motivate your child to find books they enjoy. Ask help from a librarian for inspiration!”
- Get social with reading. In the age of social media, teens love texting and chatting about anything and everything. Encourage your teen to get book recommendations from friends or offer to host a book-themed party or in-person book club.
- Try motivating yourself with movies based on books. Read the book first, then watch the movie together as a fun celebration and discuss the differences.
How Outschool can help your teen reader
Outschool can help you find new and innovative ways to motivate your teen to love reading.
- Find a popular series and join a book club on Outschool, such as this book club featuring the bestselling Divergent series.
- Have your teen join an Outschool group for added socialization in your homeschool routine, and challenge your team to ask their group members for book recommendations.
Reading skills are the gateway to future success, and research shows that motivating kids to love reading makes a difference. While a traditional public school setting leaves little room for emphasizing reading for pleasure, as a homeschool parent, you have more flexibility to foster the joy of reading in your child.
The good news is you are not alone! Outschool is here to help motivate your child to love reading in every step of the homeschool journey.