When it comes to read-alouds, the homeschooling community is certainly aware of their value. Whether families use them for familial bonding, to promote literacy, to bring subjects to life, or for all of the above, one thing’s for sure:

Read-alouds are valuable and parents know it.

However, I have noticed one thing over the past few years… many families don’t understand how versatile they are and how easily they can be the backbone for an entire homeschool curriculum.

For those families who have realized this and do plan their homeschools around this method, it can look a number of different ways (as is the case with any homeschool routine).

Curious? Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Centering Your Homeschool on Read-Alouds

1. Homeschooling with A Literature-Based Homeschool Curriculum
Very often, when people hear the word “homeschool curriculum,” they imagine sets of textbooks. Although this can certainly be the case, and many people use them, they’re not the only choice.

Enter literature-based curriculum.

Literature-based curriculum is just what it sounds like – homeschool curriculum in which living books (either read aloud by the parent or silently by the child) are used to cover required subjects, such as history, science, art, and language arts.

Some Examples of this Type of Curriculum:

Beautiful Feet Books
Sonlight
Bookshark
Case of Adventure

Each of these curricula differs from one another in certain ways. Some may include hands-on activities, while others do not. Some may include mapping and printables, while others do not. Some may include picture books while others include chapter books.

One thing they all have in common, the most important thing, is that they are centered around books. Not textbooks, real books. That can make all the difference.

2. Combining Read-Alouds with Notebooking
Sometimes the simplest things are the most effective. Education doesn’t have to be filled with busy work, tests, and multiple choice chapter review questions.

In order to understand the true value of read-alouds, I need to point something out: Books are cross-curricular and multilevel.

Homeschool subjects don’t need to be disjointed. You don’t have to teach each and every subject separately.

Right now, my kids and I are reading Throne of Fire together. In just this one book, we’ve covered geography, ancient history, social studies, science, and Egyptian mythology.

Add in a little bit of notebooking, and you’ve got language arts covered, too.

It’s a very simple approach.

Here’s a Brief Summary of How to do It:

Read a chapter to your kids, asking them to narrate (tell back what they remember). You can choose to do this either at the end of the chapter or after every couple of paragraphs or pages.

After the chapter is complete, it’s really helpful to ask them what words or phrases they would like you to write down in a word bank for them. (I do this on a whiteboard.) Finally, let them choose their own notebooking page and ask them to write about what was read. This can be done any number of ways, and I usually let my kids pick their own approach.

Visit here for a more thorough explanation.

Some Notebooking Ideas Are:

  • a written narration
  • an illustration with a caption (this is especially good for younger kids)
  • a comic strip related to the story
  • a character sketch
  • an alternate ending
  • a list of facts

Keep their notebooking pages together in a 3-pronged folder or a binder, and eventually, you’ll have a lovely collection of read-aloud memories.

3. Read-Alouds Followed by Rabbit Trails
This is the method that takes the least amount of preparation, but it is no less effective. The “read-aloud followed by rabbit trails” approach is ideal for letting a child take the reigns on where they want to go with what they’ve learned.

All it simply takes to do this is to read to your children and answer any questions they have or even discuss what was read. Afterward, allow them some time to explore the topic on their own in any way they choose.

Since every child is different, this will likely look different for every child.

Some Activities They Might Pursue May Include:

  • writing stories related to the book
  • watching documentaries related to the topic
  • acting out scenes they particularly enjoyed (my kids used to love pretending to churn
  • butter and build cabins after our Little House read-alouds)
  • reading other books about the topic
  • asking to visit sites that may be connected to the book
  • making recipes that were mentioned

What better way to support your children’s learning than by giving them a say in what they do?

I’m Shelly Sangrey, a Christ-following, homeschooling mom of 11 and wife to my ever-patient husband, Shawn. After spending years trying to discover the Lord’s will for me, I finally realized that I could use my spiritual gift of encouragement to lift up other mothers who have taken this rewarding, yet sometimes tiring, journey of homeschooling. When I’m not busy chasing kids, homeschooling, drinking coffee, or devouring books at the library, you can find me at my blog, There’s No Place Like Home, or on my YouTube channel of the same name, at https://www.youtube.com/user/redheadmom8

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