HOW to handle your read aloud time

in Practicality, Tips

Thank you for visiting Little Schoolhouse in the Suburbs. Please subscribe and you'll get great homeschool tips sent to your inbox for free!

Mother and Daughter Reading Together

I had a lovely conversation in the comments section of another post with a mom who was trying to figure out how to do the reading aloud for back-to-back 1st and 2nd graders.  I thought I’d post my answers.

In our house, there’s ONE read aloud time each day for K-5 saints, liturgy, bible, fiction, and all out-of-reach supplementary history (except 4GRD-5GRD chapter books).  The only other exemption is textbook stuff for kids not ready to do it themselves.  I don’t make everyone listen to a chapter of Pioneers and Patriots if the 4th grader can’t read it alone.  The whole session takes about 20-30 min depending.

If you have more than one child K-2, there’s TOO many saints and liturgical choices, so I made a single rotation of the resources we like best.

Here’s the details of my answer:

“It’s ALL the same reading time in our house (but the actual retelling goes in religion class.) I look over the plans each week and see who has a retelling. I try to read a saint’s picture book on that day. I always point out to the child, “You will be giving me a retelling on this in religion class tomorrow, so pay special attention.” When we get to religion class the next day, or two days later, I hand them the book to page through and refresh, then they give me the retelling.

Some weeks, there are several saints readings, so I point out to the appropriate child that he has a retelling this week, and he can choose whichever saint story he liked best that we read, but again, before each daily saints reading, I remind him that he has a retelling and should pay attention. (I do all this reminding because reading time is also artsy time and they draw and build or whatever while they listen, so I make a point to let them know the eyeballs need to be on the book for this story.)

Some weeks, there’s a retelling, but no saints reading. In this case, I just pick one of my summer saint favorites and read him/her during group time, again letting the appropriate child know that he will be expected to remember it later.

Our daily family read aloud time is first dictated by the weekly assignments. Who has bible story retellings or picture books in history or a saint’s retelling? I schedule that in first. K-4, we do it together. The child who NEEDS to actively listen is notified. There’s never been a complaint about having to listen to something they heard last year.”

The thing that’s missing from this explanation is what to do about those books in 4th and 5th that may be out of reach for those kids and need to be read aloud?  Answer:  I get it on audio so they can follow along (increases fluency) or I hold that book until the summer after and assign it as summer reading.  But all supplementary history books in 2nd and 3rd that are out of reach are read during group time.  Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims is a perennial favorite.

Did I miss anything?

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lauren February 27, 2014

For the record, she did 2nd grade last year in a public school and was struggling, so I pulled her out and I’m re-doing 2nd grade with her in homeschool, so she’s older than most 2nd graders. Without writing a novel about it, it was the best decision I’ve ever made. So I wasn’t explaining her reading level to brag at all…I’m tickled pink that she’s at a point where she enjoys reading on her own. Over winter break I think she hit that “snowball” point where everything is clicking, and it is so reassuring to see.

Good idea about having her read to the littles….I need to try that! Thanks guys.


2 Lauren February 26, 2014

I’m the original commenter, thanks so much for posting the convo and allowing others to weigh in! I’m gearing up for adding this in to our day. I currently count their read aloud time as what they do with daddy just before bed. It’s not necessarily always a book from their booklist, but they are typically working through some age-appropriate classic, about 20 minutes a night, while I do picture books with the preschool/toddler crowd. However, we are skimping on liturgical/feast day stuff, and I would like to spend more time on this with them, especially while they’re of an age where they are eager to hear about it and soak it up (perhaps they’ll always be? too much to hope for?). Plus we don’t have anything that we do as an entire group during school time, so I see this fitting all kinds of bills. I thought perhaps I could even do it DURING breakfast, (if I ate before they woke up) but that might be too much to ask from the toddler and infant (We have 5 kids – 8,6,4,2, and 6 weeks). Maybe later when they’re older.

At any rate, the only thing that’s a little fuzzy in my head is what is a PARENT read aloud vs. CHILD read aloud. For my first grader, I get that anything outside of the phonics lessons is basically a parent read aloud. And I assume that anything with the title of “read aloud” implies the parent (hopefully I’m right?). But my 2nd grader has a daily reading assignment of 30 minutes a day. I take this to mean that she reads to herself. And perhaps whether or not that is aloud or to oneself depends on the reading level of the kiddo. For my 2nd grader, she enjoys reading on her own (will typically read for 30 minutes in bed before she falls asleep at a bare minimum), at a level of Little House on the Prairie. But when she reads aloud to ME, I can tell she still needs some help. She often skips words or runs through the periods, or guesses wrongly on the hard words, and I wonder how it all makes sense to her. So assuming that she is getting this 30 minutes of reading done spontaneously and on her own, I have added in 10 minutes of HER reading aloud to ME directly after her phonics lesson. Does this seem appropriate enough? What does that transition look like in terms of curriculum and class time – going from “being read to” to “reading to oneself?” Of course we’ll always value reading time as a family for enjoyment, but I’m just talking about the curriculum. Does MODG expect us to listen to 30 minutes of our 2nd grader reading aloud? Confused. :)


3 admin February 26, 2014

Heavens, Little House? She’s doing fine. The idea is for them to spend 30 reading to themselves. They only read aloud to you if you feel the need to hear it. I make my second grader, who is bad to not read and only look at pictures, to read about 10 minutes to me.


4 admin February 27, 2014

Also, Lauren, about week 20, the second grader moves from reading “whatever” to reading history books. If your child can handle those books, then that’s the read alone time. If the child can’t, then they take over part of your read aloud time and you give the child something they can handle to read alone.


5 Lauren February 27, 2014

Thanks for the heads up about the history reading and how to handle that. That’s part of what I appreciate about reading your blog…I can get really stuck in going “by the book” with everything that it’s hard for me to take a step back and see where I can combine things. I’ll be looking out for it, I think we’re about to reach that history reading.


6 admin February 27, 2014

I’m so glad your decision to pull her out of school is going well! And I (continually) mention the reading in history because it REALLY threw me off the first couple of times through. It looks like you read a whole 200 page book in ONE DAY. Completely confused me. Just spread it out over the week as if it’s listed daily. If she can read it alone, that’s one hole filled. If she can’t, then you read it aloud (filling a different hole) and give her something on level.

One of the great things about our curriculum is that a child isn’t locked into a particular reading level by tedious assignment notes, but it can be REALLY confusing for those of us who are on our first couple of trips through. It’s mind-boggling.

7 Catie February 27, 2014

My second grader is also a strong reader, but seems less so when he reads aloud. I think it is just a very different set of skills. His comprehension is just fine when he reads silently, so I don’t worry about him missing anything. To practice speaking and reading aloud skills, I have him read familiar picture books to his little brother once a day. If the story is familiar, he does well, even beginning to do voices for different characters. The other thing I have done is have him read aloud a few times a week from a reader like National Catholic Readers which have older style language.


8 admin February 27, 2014

Catie, I have one kid that reads to the others as well. It also cuts down on my fiction reading to the group!


9 admin February 26, 2014

Catie, I DO have a little one. And YES, there is a lot of yelling over her. No more naps now that she’s turning three. Boo. The best thing I’ve found (other than reading during naps, which is exactly how I did it when she would take them) is to provide and “Art Bucket” when I read. All the kids draw and doodle or play clay or water colors. That helps a lot. There’s still a lot of comments from the shortest one about her creations, but it’s much less since she’s entertained. “Look, a baby egg!” “More green!” But the older kids know that during reading time, she’s the only one who can have outbursts without getting in trouble. We all just deal as best we can.

The second best option is a bubble bath. She can take a tubby, while I read on the bed. I can see her in there from my bed. But now that she’s discovered that books are fun, we end up with a wet, bubbly, naked participant on the bed with us.


10 admin February 26, 2014

Nancy, I get them several places. First, I check the library. Since many of our books are classics, I find them there pretty easily. Next stop is Audible. I don’t have an account with them for monthly books, again since we’re dealing with mostly classics, they’re not usually as expensive as the monthly plan. Last stop is Amazon. I’ve found several otherwise unfindable audio books there on tape. I had to buy a tape recorder, but it was worth it.


11 Catie February 26, 2014

Thanks so much. I am currently trying to figure out how and when to do read aloud books. Correct me if I am wrong, but it sounds like you no longer have toddlers and babies to occupy. When your children were younger, did you do read alouds during naps? I have a 10 month old and an almost two year old. On a good day I can get them to nap at the same time, but usually one is always awake. I feel like I am yelling when I try to read something out loud just to be heard over the ‘baby’ noise.


12 nancy February 26, 2014

how do you get the books on audio. you mentioned that if the 4th or 5th grader reader is out of reach for the child you get it on audio. where do you get them?



Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: