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Dads in Homeschooling: Reading Aloud and Bedtime Stories

By Pete Storz

A homeschooling Dads role in his family's homeschool is largely defined by time - most Dads are only home during evenings and weekends - and the day to day homeschooling things Dad can do are bounded by this fact. One significant thing Dad can do for his family and homeschool is reading aloud and telling stories to his children at their bedtime.

This sounds so simple - some Dads may already be doing it - that it is easy to miss what may be accomplished thereby. First, it gives Mom some time to catch her breath, or at least to do some necessary task without being interrupted. For his children, this reading and storytelling time can represent several things. Its a half hour or an hour (or more?) of concentrated "Daddy time." This reading and story time lets Dad introduce his children to how much fascination and enjoyment may be found in books and history, and encourage younger readers to advance to longer, more interesting, and more instructive books. Dad can and should also use this time to tell, read, and discuss Bible stories, and ultimately to read the Bible itself to his children.

It is no exaggeration to say that entire "worlds" may be found in books. Writing and books have enabled mankind to collect, record, and pass on to future generations the knowledge, wisdom (and sometimes, foolishness), and history of thousands of years of mankind's existence. It properly could be said that writing and books constitute a cornerstone of civilization. Added to this are the other "worlds" found in books of science fiction and fantasy. His children may, of course, discover some of this adventure and enjoyment in books used for school or by being turned loose in a library. However, by having Dad select and read books aloud, his children can receive a more planned, systematic exposure to those joys. The books Dad reads can bring into his children's home, and make real in their imaginations, a vast array of people, events, places, animals, and things.

Enormous effort and talent have been exerted, with great success, to create a wealth of colorful, fun books for early readers - combining enjoyment with exercising young readers new-found skills. Without discouraging his children from enjoying such early reader books, Dad should select and read aloud books that are a bit more advanced than his children's reading skills (though still understandable when read aloud). This will encourage continued advancement in reading skills by tantalizing the younger readers with examples of even more enjoyable reading yet to come.

Sunday Schools are good examples of how storytelling can be utilized to make ideas tangible and alive to children. The homeschooling Dad should build on this by using some of his read aloud and bedtime story time for stories from the Bible. At younger ages, it is useful just to tell or read familiar stories in a quieter environment and to add more detail than Sunday Schools usually include. As his children grow older, Dad should work in bits of information that will make it really clear to his children that those familiar stories are more than just "stories." They are accounts of God's dealings with real people through real events. At this point, try to follow chronological order, add in the connecting accounts from the Bible that are usually not used in Sunday Schools, and discuss the historical and cultural background of the Bible accounts. Yes, this means that Dad needs to learn more about the history and culture of ancient civilizations so as to be a better teacher! Making the transition from telling Bible and history stories to reading aloud the Bible passages in which the accounts are found is a natural next step. Doing this will help your children understand that the Bible is well worth reading.

As a homeschooling Dad who did all this over a period of several years, I can say that this can be an enormously enjoyable nightly task! In terms of ones family's homeschool, it could also be your children's literature and Bible "classes" for several years.

Copyright © May, 2002, Peter Storz and HomeschoolChristian.com

About the author: Pete Storz grew up in Woodland, CA, near Sacramento. His family attended a Lutheran church, and for grades 1 through 3, Pete attended the private school run by that church, and public schools thereafter. Pete attended a college in Phoenix, AZ, graduating with an Associate's degree. While in Phoenix, Pete worked in a Christian bookstore and tape library, was involved in a ministry that reached out to Jehovah's Witnesses, and ran sound for several local contemporary Christian music bands. Pete moved to "Silicon Valley" to work in electronics and be closer to his parents. He met Becky in 1978 at a church, and they were married in 1980. They have three children, Suzy, Chris, and Katie. Becky first heard of homeschooling on a Focus on the Family program, and about a video seminar by Dr. Raymond Moore that was to be hosted at a nearby church by his daughter. After attending this and a seminar by Gregg Harris, Pete and Becky were encouraged to believe that they could homeschool their children. Remembering that first year or two, when support was crucial but hard to find, Pete and Becky started a support group in 1992 with a special emphasis on fellowship, person-to-person support, and helping new homeschoolers get started. Though Pete and Becky stepped down from leadership after 4 years, SELAH Christian Schools continues to assist homeschoolers in the San Jose, California area. Pete and Becky continue to publish a resource directory for San Jose area homeschoolers as well as other support activities.

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