We’ve officially been a homeschool family for more than two decades. Each of our nine children have been homeschooled since their birth or adoption. While I consider a full spectrum of subjects to be very important, I have noted that each of them hinges on one very special skill — reading.
Reading skills actually begin at a very early age, with listening and responding to others, usually parents and siblings. These conversations are so important that research has noted that babies raised without them, such as in many orphanages, will have a more difficult time learning to read as they progress.
We continue to encourage reading by reading to our children long before they are capable of reading on their own. Reading to young children and developing their ability and love of reading has an integral effect on learning. A child who is a skilled and confident reader will find learning new material much easier and enjoyable.
While these building blocks are important in building strong readers, they also contribute largely to other skills, including learning. We’ve found with our own children that strong readers find learning in any field easier. A child that struggles with reading will often have difficulty learning new material in other subjects.
I’m not suggesting that a poor reader cannot learn; some of our adopted children have reading issues, but have shown abilities to learn certain subjects in other ways. There is a strong correlation, however, between strong reading skills and ease and enjoyment of learning.
We parents will note that some children just do not like reading, even if they are good readers. The correlation remains; when they are ready to learn new material, the reading skills will enable them to learn more easily.
Does it matter what a child reads? I believe it does. God calls us to seek that which is good and avoid that which is not. Reading uses multiple senses to integrate what we read into our brains. What a person reads becomes imprinted into his brain, good or bad.
Will reading a story such as Beauty and the Beast be detrimental? Not necessarily. Discuss the positives and negatives. Help the child critique each book and its characters, in an age appropriate way.
When our older boys were reading chapter books, other children their ages were reading a series that was considered scary. I read enough to know that our children would not be reading the series, and it helped that they didn’t really want to read them. Later, some Christian families regretted allowing and even encouraging the series with their children. The books were not occult based, but they did have a slant in that direction and led to the children reading other such books, in addition to watching movies that led them away from God’s ways.
Like so much in life, our choices in books can be addictive. Some find evil compelling and will seek out such choices. Others might find detailed romance novels or other non-Christian stories will draw them.
But, just as negative influences of books and stories can have detrimental effects, stories of hope and of God’s ways can have favorable outcomes. Reading weaves the messages into the brain, and children are most vulnerable to receiving them.
Reading is the gateway through which so much learning can take place. It’s important to ensure that our children are reading well and reading materials that will bring them closer to God and His ways and His World.