When Should You Start and Stop Reading to Your Kids?

reading

When Should We Start Reading to Our Kids?

Some would say we should start reading to our babies as soon as they’re born, but I think we should start even before that. A study was done at the University of North Carolina in which 33 pregnant women were given a passage from a children’s story to read to their unborn babies. They were asked to read it three times a day for the last six weeks of pregnancy. Fifty-two hours postpartum, the babies were each given a nipple to suck as they listened through headphones to a woman’s voice (not their mom) reading three different passages. The researchers measured the babies’ sucking rates and found that the babies showed a preference for the passages that their moms had read during pregnancy.

When Should We Stop Reading to Our Kids?

Remember the recommendation from the U.S. Department of Education Commission on Reading that we talked about yesterday? If you didn’t get a chance to read it click here. They said reading aloud to children “should continue throughout the grades.”

Reading to my teens has been one of the most bonding and rewarding times for us. It’s a time for deep diving when we talk about what makes people tick and what we hold as the core values that drive our decisions.

Tom Sawyer’s brilliant (albeit mischievous) ploy to manipulate his peers into paying him for the “opportunity” to whitewash his aunt’s fence sparked a great discussion with my kids. We talked about Tom’s genius and his ability to manipulate people and situations and how he had a choice to use those gifts for good or for bad. We talked about how Tom Sawyer could have been a great entrepreneur, and we contemplated what causes a person to choose well or not choose well.

When we read The Giver, we talked about the pros and cons of socialism and how this conversation is extremely relevant to changes in our own society. We talked about aspects of their society that we admired and aspects that seemed oppressive.

In the teen years, when so many things are competing for our kids’ attention, reading aloud can offer intimate moments with them that we might not otherwise find.

 

Check back on Friday. We are going to offer suggested reading titles for kids of all ages. In the meantime, leave a comment below telling us some of your favorite read aloud selections.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 2 to 16), including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly radio show, write freelance articles and columns and speak on topics that affect parents and families.

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A Key Predictor of Academic Success

Words

Vocabulary is an important part of reading success. Kids have a much easier time decoding words that they recognize and understand.  But vocabulary isn’t only critical for reading, it’s important to learning as a whole. According to readaloud.org, “The number of words that a child knows on entering kindergarten is a key predictor of his or her future success.”

This week we are talking about reading aloud to our kids. If you missed yesterday’s post, take a look.

Out loud reading is crucial to vocabulary development because it exposes kids to a higher volume of words and to words that you don’t normally use in everyday conversation. In his bestselling book The Read Aloud Handbook, author Jim Trelease explains that most people use about 5,000 words in regular conversation. These make up a person’s Basic Lexicon. People also pull from additional bank of about 5,000 less often used words, and together, these 10,000 words make up a person’s Common Lexicon.

read aloud book

But the true test of the strength of a person’s vocabulary lies in their ability to understand and use a smaller group called the “rare words.” So how do we expose kids to these rare words if they’re not a part of our daily conversation? By reading to them.

And as it turns out, words have a huge impact on learning.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 2 to 16), including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly radio show, write freelance articles and columns and speak on topics that affect parents and families.

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The Big Payoff of Reading Aloud to Kids

ReadingAloud

Out of all the different ways that we can help our kids succeed in school, the number one thing that parents can do requires nothing more than a free library card and time. We can read to them.

In 1983, the U.S. Department of Education was concerned about low academic performance scores, so they funded a Commission on Reading who spent two years combing through thousands of research reports conducted over the previous twenty-five years, and in 1985 they published their findings in a report titled Becoming a Nation of Readers. Amidst all of their digging, they discovered that reading out loud to kids is the number one most important thing we can do to help our kids become successful learners.

“The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children,” the report said. “It is a practice that should continue throughout the grades.”

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 2 to 16), including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly radio show, write freelance articles and columns and speak on topics that affect parents and families.

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5 Steps to Stock Gift Success

StockGiftSuccess

On Monday, we talked about the Stock Gift for this holiday season. Today, we want to sum it up briefly with 5 easy steps along with some ideas to get your creative juices flowing.

Five Steps to Stock Gift Success

  1. Idea — Pick your stock gift idea (see below for ideas)
  2. Recipient List — Make a list of everyone who will receive your stock gift. Be sure to add a few extras for spontaneous gift-giving.
  3. Shopping List — Make a shopping list for supplies. We like to dedicate a large plastic tote to hold all of the supplies, so we can easily take it out and put it away.
  4. Schedule It — Pick a time each week and make an appointment with your family to work on the Stock Gift. The appointment should be as non-negotiable as any doctor or business appointment. Once it’s on the calendar, everyone in the house should commit to be there.
  5. Make Memories — Put on festive holiday music. Make some holiday treats to enjoy during Stock Gift making time. And keep a camera handy. These are the days that childhood memories are made of!

Ideas…

Any Google or Pinterest search can net you more ideas than you can imagine, but here a few to get your creative juices flowing.

Click below to see ideas

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody are two moms with nine kids between them (ages 2 to 26). Together they host a weekly parenting radio show, write parenting articles and columns, coach individual families, teach workshops and seminars and speak at conventions and conferences. They are passionate about empowering and equipping parenting on purpose with an emphasis on strong family relationships (loving), raising teachable kids (training), and pointing kids toward their passion and purpose (releasing).

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The Stock Gift

Stock Gift

Thanksgiving is this week, and for most of us, that also means the Christmas Season is officially upon us! The Hagaman and Stahlmann families spend our Thanksgiving day at Busch Gardens, which is totally decked out in full Christmas regalia, and we typically end the night with our first Christmas movie of the year.

We’re not the big Black Friday people, but this is certainly the time of year to start thinking about gift, which means we need to find some extra time and money.

Have you ever met a mom who isn’t busy? We haven’t. Now add the holidays to an already full plate, and wow! Things can get interesting.

But this year, we’ve got an idea that will make you feel like a holiday superhero while saving you money AND giving your family some quality, memory-making time together.

It’s called the Stock Gift, and now is the perfect time to start working on it.

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody are two moms with nine kids between them (ages 2 to 26). Together they host a weekly parenting radio show, write parenting articles and columns, coach individual families, teach workshops and seminars and speak at conventions and conferences. They are passionate about empowering and equipping parenting on purpose with an emphasis on strong family relationships (loving), raising teachable kids (training), and pointing kids toward their passion and purpose (releasing).

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“Saving Christmas” Movie Review and Giveaway

Saving Christmas

Christmas is just six weeks away! But for many Christians, there’s an internal struggle with this celebration. For some it may just be a few fleeting thoughts that give them pause. But for others, it can be a raging conflict between their desire to honor and glorify God and the Western cultural expressions of Christmas.

Is it okay to participate in all the holiday hoopla? Should we be surrounding the Christmas tree with so many presents? Isn’t that a participation in the gross commercialization of Christmas that has stolen the meaning of this high holy day? Should we even have a tree? It’s just a throwback to an old pagan tradition, right? And what about Santa? A mythological character who makes a list and checks it twice, who is somehow aware whether every kid is naughty or nice — that sounds a whole lot like God Himself. Isn’t Santa somehow blasphemous? Even the very date of this celebration is suspect. No one knows when Jesus was born. Didn’t the church steal December 25th from the pagan rituals of the Winter Solstice?

It’s not that Christians are trying to be argumentative or disparaging. For the most part, even staunch anti-Christmas believers are ultimately motivated by a desire to honor Jesus. They want their worship to be pure, in spirit and in truth. But the real question is this: Do all the traditional Christmas celebration trappings pervert our worship? Or — could it be possible — that they actually enhance it?

Where is Christ in the modern Christmas? That is precisely what Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas intends to answer.

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody are two moms with nine kids between them (ages 2 to 26). Together they host a weekly parenting radio show, write parenting articles and columns, coach individual families, teach workshops and seminars and speak at conventions and conferences. They are passionate about empowering and equipping parenting on purpose with an emphasis on strong family relationships (loving), raising teachable kids (training), and pointing kids toward their passion and purpose (releasing).

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Our Phone Call With Kirk Cameron

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We were so excited when we found out that we were going to be included on a conference call with Kirk Cameron.

I have to confess (Jenni speaking) that I was a HUGE fan back in the 80s when he played Mike Seaver on the TV sitcom Growing Pains. Like most girls my age, I adored his impish character and swooned over his fetching smile, but now, more than 20 years later, I am much more impressed with the man Kirk Cameron has become.

The polar opposite of on-screen ladies’ man Mike Seaver, Kirk Cameron has matured into a devoted husband and father and an outspoken Christian leader, who has devoted much of his adult career to speaking, teaching and making films that spread the gospel message.

He has a new movie coming out on November 14th, and we had the opportunity to hear his take on Christmas, child-rearing, homeschooling and of course, the new movie.

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody are two moms with nine kids between them (ages 2 to 26). Together they host a weekly parenting radio show, write parenting articles and columns, coach individual families, teach workshops and seminars and speak at conventions and conferences. They are passionate about empowering and equipping parenting on purpose with an emphasis on strong family relationships (loving), raising teachable kids (training), and pointing kids toward their passion and purpose (releasing).

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Their Name is Today – Review and Giveaway

Their Name Is Today

I love the title of this book!

Their Name is Today is an awesome reminder that our kids won’t stop growing to wait for us to get our act together or get through this project or that crisis. They need our love and our focus right here and right now.

In his book Their Name is Today: Reclaiming Childhood in a Hostile World, author Johann Christoph Arnold reminds us that “as long as we have children entrusted to our care, we cannot forget that the demands they make on us must be answered in the present. Their name is today. Whatever children need in the way of guidance, security and love, they need now. Because soon enough it will be time for them to fly on their own, and then there will be no holding them back.”

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 2 to 16), including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly radio show, write freelance articles and columns and speak on topics that affect parents and families.

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Are You a TEAM Player?

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“No you did NOT just throw your trash on the ground five feet from that garbage can!” I said to myself, walking toward the door of an establishment and watching a teen in front of me. After seeing someone do something so blatantly disrespectful and apathetic, I couldn’t help but wonder why some people just don’t feel that they have a responsibility or need to play a part in keeping an orderly cohesiveness in our world.

When I really began to think about it, one thing came to mind. As a whole, most of us don’t necessarily feel connected to the people around us – at all. I’m not even sure most of us really know our own neighbors.

Community (the way it once existed) is foreign to us these days. Think about it – we don’t hold barn raisings when a couple gets married.We’re lucky if we clear our schedules to make it to the ceremony. Okay, so maybe we’ll hop on a meal train when someone has a baby and cook a lasagna (maybe), but how many of us go clean that new momma’s house and weed her landscaping and do her laundry so she can bond with her newborn or perhaps get some sleep? How many of us really “do life” with other families — eat together regularly, bear each other’s burdens, celebrate the milestones and endure the daily grind?

It makes me feel sad.

Jody Hagaman

Jody Hagaman and her husband Tony have three kids, ages 26 to 15. Jody’s story of how her son asked to be homeschooled has inspired tens of thousands of families around the nation. A true homeschooling success story, that son is now an attorney in New Hampshire and is the New England Regional Director of The Concord Coalition, a bipartisan organization dedicated to advocating responsible fiscal policy. As a community leader, Jody has served on the board of directors of many local non-profit organizations. Her work experience as a corrections officer on a crisis intervention team inspired her to make a difference in the lives of the next generation.

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Are You Up for the Challenge?

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You are probably asking, “What challenge NOW?”

Well, with so many time stealers out there in the big bad world, our job as parents is to be purposeful in how we spend our family’s time. And make no mistake, there are a lot of options.

One of the best ways to spend your time (and probably one of the most important things you can do while you still have your little blessings under your wing) is to help them discover their purpose here on our planet. Now, we realize that they have a lifetime to fulfill their calling, and most don’t have it all figured out by the time they’re 18, but you can have a general idea as to what lane they’ll be running in during their stint as a big person. What we DON’T want is for them to waste precious time as an adult trying to figure out what they want to be when they grow up (oops, I think that’s our story). Let’s save them from that great tragedy.

So, what are we doing to figure it out this big conundrum? (Wait! Don’t panic. We’re about to give you the answer.)

Jody Hagaman

Jody Hagaman and her husband Tony have three kids, ages 26 to 15. Jody’s story of how her son asked to be homeschooled has inspired tens of thousands of families around the nation. A true homeschooling success story, that son is now an attorney in New Hampshire and is the New England Regional Director of The Concord Coalition, a bipartisan organization dedicated to advocating responsible fiscal policy. As a community leader, Jody has served on the board of directors of many local non-profit organizations. Her work experience as a corrections officer on a crisis intervention team inspired her to make a difference in the lives of the next generation.

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