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Reading Aloud to Kids Who Can’t Sit Still

Do your children have a hard time sitting still during read-alouds? Many kids do. They can sit still for two minutes, and then—ZOOM!—they are off. There are so many interesting things to do at any given time. There are block towers to construct, cool insects to check out, computer games to play, and physical feats to perform. Sometimes all at once! Life is great!

Good listening comprehension spills over into good reading comprehension, so you definitely want to figure out how to make read-aloud time doable for you and your child.

Reading Aloud with Active Children

Reading aloud for twenty minutes a day is important. In fact, read-aloud time is so important that it is built right into the All About Reading program, with a prompt in every lesson to remind you.

Reading Aloud to Kids Who Can't Sit Still - All About Reading

10 Tips for Reading Aloud to Kids Who Can’t Sit Still

Here are 10 ideas to try if you have an active child.

    1. Read after physical activity. Make sure that he gets plenty of physical activity—riding a bike, playing tag, rolling down hills, climbing the jungle gym—kids are designed to MOVE, so take care of that need before expecting them to sit still for a book.
    2. Consider the timing of your read-alouds. Some children have an extra dose of energy right after breakfast, so this wouldn’t be the ideal time to ask them to focus on a storybook. Midafternoon or bedtime may be a better choice.
    3. Keep your children engaged with interactive books. Let them lift the flaps, pull the tabs, count the cats. Here’s a list of some really good interactive books.
    4. Listen to audio books in the car.
    5. Read to your child while he’s in the bathtub.
    6. Read during lunch or snack time.
Reading Aloud to Kids Who Can't Sit Still - All About Reading
  1. Let your child sit on a Move-N-Sit cushion.
  2. Try reading books that appeal to your child’s unique interests.
  3. Eliminate avoidable distractions such as cell phones, the television, or computer games being played in the background.
  4. Set a timer for read-alouds. This way your child knows that there will be a definite end to the sitting-down-and-listening part of his day. He knows that the timer will go off, reminding you that book time is over and he can propel off like a rocket to his next adventure.

One Final (Slightly Controversial) Tip

I didn’t believe this tip until I worked with some serious wigglers myself.

Some children need to be actively doing something with their hands in order to concentrate.

This can be as simple as holding a toy car and spinning the wheels or as involved as building a jigsaw puzzle or coloring with crayons.

Reading Aloud to Kids Who Can't Sit Still - All About Reading

Some children are so overwhelmed by the act of sitting quietly and concentrating that they simply cannot stay still, making it nearly impossible for them to listen.

But when a child is allowed to quietly play with something during reading time, he can expend physical energy in a nonintrusive way and focus on listening to the story. Of course, if the quiet play escalates into a full-fledged game, then attention will wander and any positive listening benefits will be lost.

Here’s the key: let the child stay engaged in a calming activity during read-aloud time and help him learn the boundaries of what constitutes a “quiet” activity (this definition can vary family to family).

Here are a few ideas for keeping hands busy:

  • Thinking Putty
  • Playdough
  • modeling wax
  • Lego® bricks
  • doodling
  • lacing cards
  • coloring
  • knitting
  • building blocks
  • beading
  • making friendship bracelets

Experiment to see what works in your household. Some children are helped by keeping their hands busy, while others are distracted by it. Some children are able to focus better in the morning, while others have a calm, receptive mind before bedtime.

Making read-aloud time work for your family may require a bit of trial and error. If read-aloud time isn’t working right now, I encourage you to try some of the ideas shared above. Don’t give up! It is critical to develop your child’s listening comprehension through read-alouds, so experiment and be open to trying new things.

Is your child a wiggler? Do you have a read-aloud tip to share?

Read-Aloud Tips Recommended by Our Readers:

  • I read aloud at the deserted park near our house, while he moves. It’s how he learns best! (Recommended by @nottheformerthings via Instagram)
  • I have my wiggler brush my hair while I read aloud to him. He sits on the couch and I sit on the floor. That way he can see over my shoulder to any pictures. His hands stay busy and he listens! (Recommended by Gina via blog comment)
  • I like to have the boys act out the stories that we are reading when they are in a super wriggly mood. Sometimes we make up hand signals they do every time they hear a certain word. (Recommended by Rachel via blog comment)
  • I put together a box of “hand fidgets” for him – things he can squish around in his hands while he’s listening but that won’t distract him from his lesson. (Recommended by Paula via blog comment)
  • When my daughter has the wiggles, she holds a toy car in her hands. Rolling the wheels with her fingers seems to help keep her listening without creating any distractions. (Recommended by Liz T. via blog comment)
  • My children all like to do handicrafts while we read…embroidery, crochet “chains”, and drawing have all been wonderful during read-aloud. (Recommended by Amara K. via blog comment)
  • Put a pile of clean laundry in the middle of the floor and have the kids fold while mom reads. (Recommended by Molly M. via Facebook)
  • Color, draw, Perler beads, Play-Doh, Rainbow Loom, and crocheting have all worked well. (Recommended by Carlyn L. via Facebook)
  • Puzzles are a favorite at our house right now. (Recommended by @ourlittleschoolhouse via Instagram)

Photo credit: Rachel Neumann

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Leave a Comment

I find that voice animation and eye contact works. Involve the child in the story you are telling.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Great observation, Robyn! I have found the same, which is why my kids strongly prefer when I read aloud to them over listening to recorded audiobooks.

After working with 2 – year-old boys in daycare and raising 3 boys of my own, I wish I had known these spot on tips for reading to active children. It would have helped them become better readers faster.

Judy

says:

I have been tutoring my twin dyslexic grandchildren this year. Early in the year one of them and I were working on word family flashcards. Even though I know to not ask for no movement or squirming, things weren’t going so well, a lot of missed words, and trouble staying on task. At one point, I went outside to speak with my husband. She followed me and began running around and around the swimming pool. I still had the cards in my hand, so as she “flew” past, I would hold up a card and she would read it; hardly missing any. Wish I had kept count, but I do know it was very few that she missed. Yes, some people do better thinking when they are not confined by “sit down and be still”. A mind that is affected by stress or tension cannot think as clearly, and movement helps them regulate their tension level (some by small a movement, others need more).

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Judy,
Thank you for sharing your discovery of how big movement helped your granddaughter so much. It made me smile to think of her running a lap around the pool, reading a word, running a lap, reading a word, and so on! Yes, movement is very important for some learners (and not just kids, I know some adults that have to move to focus)!

You are a wise woman. I am in my 50s and still find it hard to sit still.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I don’t know about wise, Lori, just experienced. I am in my 40s and I still need to move to focus. I’m one that needs small movements, fiddling with things and such, in order to really think but I know some adults that have to pace. It has just struck me as odd that many adults can’t sit still, but we expect children to do it.

Ellen C

says:

I had back-to-back jobs where I was allowed to wear headphones. I wore them CONSTANTLY. I found that audio books or talk radio/podcasts were NO GOOD when I was performing what I called “language tasks.” If I was reading or writing e-mails, memos, etc., I couldn’t focus on the audio book or talk radio/podcast topic. I kept rewinding and rewinding and rewinding. But if I was just entering junk into a spreadsheet, doing mailouts or filing, I could really focus on the WORDS in my headphones because there was no language IN my brain, if that makes sense.

So, I use this rule now for readalouds with my kids. They can do ANYTHING as long as they’re quiet and still, AND as long as the activity has no language. So, coloring, puzzles, legos, stickers, cutouts, hidden picture books, etc. are all OK. On the NO list are reading other books (yes, they’ve asked), writing, search-a-words, etc. It seems to be working out pretty well. Can’t wait til they’re a little older and can start some embroidery – hoping they’ll be doing that during readaloud time soon!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Ellen,
I completely agree with your rule! My kids have also tried to read another book or a magazine while I’m reading aloud, and I don’t allow that. However, since they are older they have done all sorts of tasks including: taking bikes or scooters apart, putting bikes and scooters back together, knitting and cross-stitching, cleaning out and organizing drawers or cupboards, folding laundry, all sorts of arts and crafts, Lego building, and much more. Sometimes I even take a chair to the hallway and read aloud between the doors to their rooms so they can clean their rooms while I read aloud.

Mehgan

says:

Thank you so much for this post! I’m a mom to 3 very wiggly boys. Lately I’ve started letting them do something quietly while I read to them, like playing with cars or Legos. I used to think that if they were playing that they wouldn’t be listening, but in fact they listened SO much better when they were allowed to do something else while listening. Thank you for the reassurance that it’s okay to do this!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Mehgan,
You are welcome! We are taught that a “good listener” sits still, with their hands folded, looking at the speaker. However, many people (and I am among them) have trouble listening well while struggling to be still. It’s easier for many to focus if they have something for their hands to do and they can look away from the speaker. My kids love read aloud time because they can paint, draw, color, play with Lego, whittle, sew, tie knots, and so much more while I do it. They simply must stay in the room with me and be quiet.

Decia Newby

says:

I have a couple little wigglers. I’ll have to try some of these. Thank you!

Angie

says:

These are wonderful tips! Thank you!

arianne

says:

These ideas are great! I would’ve never thought of allowing my child to do something else while reading. I always thought that was being rude or not listening. My child, however, needs to be allowed to get her energy out somehow and learns best while her hands are occupied. I continue to learn new ways to help her learn everyday. These posts are an encouragement and help ME to think a little outside the box…which isn’t always easy for me:P

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Arianne,
I’m glad this article has helped you learn to help your child better. In my experience, most people listen better if they can move their hands.

Tara

says:

I’ve actually ran into some of these suggestions, before. My older daughter, who we’re pretty sure has at least a reading disability, absolutely hates to sit still during story time. She loves to move around or draw. Such a contrast to my younger daughter, who just wants to cuddle up next to me and have my arm around her during story time. My son was pretty much like my older daughter, minus the reading complications. It really helped with both of my older children to just let them get up and play or whatever. They got a lot more out of storytime that way.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Tara,
Personally, I would have more trouble reading aloud to the cuddler. I find it distracting to be touched while I’m trying to do something. “Normal” for us is all the movement and doing things during read alouds.

Angel

says:

My kids have always listened best when they are doing something else. Thinking putty, Legos and drawing are facorite reading time activities.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

These are some of my kids’ favorite read aloud time activities too. Thank you for sharing, Angel.

Sarah L.

says:

It is such a comfort to read about letting kids move and do during read aloud time. I am an avid reader who can sit still for hours on end caught up in my fantasy land…my 4 year old, not so much, lol. I wanted to start introducing chapter books and it wasn’t til I started letting him ‘do’ during the time that he really started enjoying it.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Sarah,
The “doing” makes a big difference for a lot of kids! I glad you found comfort in this blog post.

Jennifer Casey

says:

Yes! I tried to explain to my husband that my wigglers listen so much better when they are doing handwriting worksheets or coloring, nothing that requires intense concentration, but enough to keep their hands occupied so they can sit still longer.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Jennifer,
Some people have the concept that you cannot listen without sitting still so ingrained that they have trouble imagining anything else. I’ve even seen books and posters aimed at kids suggesting that in order to be a good listener they have to sit very still with their hands in their laps and their eyes on the speaker. Sigh.

Melissa Ford

says:

This post takes the pressure out of making chapter book reading a chore. I have some that sit and listen, some that color or play with matchbox cars while I read and it is nice to know they are taking it in! We like to read during lunch some times too!

Amanda

says:

Thank you for the tips! I will be trying them with my little wiggler.

Christine

says:

Great tips!

Cindy

says:

My daughter takes it in turns, usually the more tired she is the more she wiggles. I just try to make sure she keeps on schedule and doesn’t get too tired.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

You bring up a great point, Cindy. Thank you.

Jenny K.

says:

I have a wiggler. My daughter usually builds with blocks, or draws while I read out loud. I have found that after lunch works best for us to get some read a loud time in for the day. Love all the great suggestions shared by other homeschool families.

Jennifer Vasquez

says:

Love the post and the tips!! We will definitely be giving these a go with my wiggles.

Sarah

says:

We read before bed and during craft time . Works great for the kids .

Kristen

says:

We read at bedtime so they are exhausted from their day and do not move. I also have read to them in the bathtub several times, which they enjoy. But I have read there is great evidence supporting that when you read something and then draw it out on paper it helps to solidify the concepts being read.

Heather Hutchinson

says:

Reading and snack time together is a win win in our family!

Alison

says:

Great ideas!

Bethany Furness

says:

Thanks for all the ideas! My first is wiggly sometimes, but she can sit and read books together for very long periods of time. Coming up with #2, I don’t think it’s going to go the same way.

Lisa

says:

Unfortunately, we took the safe route and waited til our wiggler was at the stage when she wouldn’t interrupt constantly! Now we are reading aloud every day! She was a late speller reader as well but finally, we are spelling, writing and reading fluently!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Lisa,
It is encouraging to many to hear that your late reader and speller is now doing so well. Thank you for sharing.

Shamaal

says:

Hello I have fell in love with All about learning press products. I would be extremely grateful If I won this for my 1st grade, son. Thank You for the opportunity to be given a chance. :)

Katrina

says:

We utilized the “read while they’re in the tub” idea a lot when my crew was little! They never wanted to get out of the bath and were too little to leave unattended so I started doing it one day just so I would have something useful to do. (We hadn’t had a chance to get to our read-aloud time that evening and it was getting late).

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Katrina,
I love the multitasking aspect of reading while they are in the tub!

Sarah

says:

My boys love being read to, listening to audiobooks but when we have the more moving two year old little brother along, the big boys start building him a train track that keeps him busy and they are love listening to a story while they build!

Suz

says:

We love audio books in the car!

Luella Spurbeck

says:

I do books on CD in the car, we listen to the classics like Peter Pan and the Narnia series. Before bedtime I’ll do read alouds with my youngest. When he’s napping, I’ll do read-alouds with my oldest. Sometimes the older will read to the younger, which I think is totally awesome!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Luella,
I love when my olders read to my youngers! It’s a family tradition of reading together.

Jennie Johnson

says:

My olders all have seemed to calm down when I started to read a book. But my 3 year old is very active and has a hard time sitting when I read a book to her. These are great tips. Thanks.

Kim

says:

Thank you. I totally agree.

These tips are great! I have a wiggle worm and I’ve found on nice days reading while the kids play in the sandbox is ideal.

I love these tips. We do legos, puzzles and drawing typically. For the read aloud timer, he loves when I read to him, but needs a timer for how long he reads to me so I’ve just been increasing it slowly throughout the year. I tell him, to be in x grade, you’ll need x minutes by the end of the school year so he knows it’s coming up. Then, once a week will have a higher number (like 5 more minutes), then 2x a week… and that is how we’ve built up our read alouds over time.

Dee Anne

says:

Thank you!! These are such wonderful ideas. I do have a wiggle-worm, and he likes to play with Legos during read-aloud time. We also have read-aloud time at bedtime. It’s been a part of our nightly routine since our son was an infant.

Kelly Bellamy

says:

Thank you! There is quite the age difference in my children and I am trying to help my younger get in the habit of sitting to read.

Mary

says:

My third child seemed to be constantly in motion. It seemed like he was always tumbling, spinning on his head or diving over the arm of the couch during read aloud time. The irony was that when we tried to discuss what I had just read, he was the only one who had heard any of the story and could answer the questions. The other two were so distracted by his antics that they missed out. In desperation I had them draw the story I was reading to them and it worked out wonderfully. All of them got the story then and we had great artwork about what we read to show Dad when he got home from work. As he got older and found areas to expend his energy in (piano and football), he learned to be more still- never completely (the feet are always moving), but not distracting to others.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Mary,
This sounds so familiar. We still have a “no headstands” rule for read alouds, because of my daughter. :D

mia

says:

Thanks for the tips. I have 3 wiggly boys so can definitely use a little help with read aloud time.

Kimberly

says:

Great blog. I have a serious wiggler and realizing she needs to remain active while I read has been very helpful. Sometimes even me stroking her hair while I read is enough sensory exposure for her to keep her attention and other times she needs to color or work on Legos while I read.

Amanda D

says:

I have movers and I have realized that letting them move helps them stay focused. We use Legos to keep hands busy and run laps intermittently to get rid of excess energy. It was easy to be frustrated before I understood they needed to move, but they are listening and comprehending even while wiggling.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Amanda,
It’s great that you found what your kids needed!

Amanda

says:

We love to read during lunch time, and when everyone is tucked into their beds at night with a little fidget toy :)

Emily

says:

I agree with the last tip, my two older girls do best if the have some sort of little toy in their hand during reading time.

Jenni N

says:

Yes!!! My son is a wiggly one and moving helps him focus!!! Thanks!

It is a fabulous program for my special needs child. He loves the stories in the book. The illustrations entice him to read on. Thanks!

Tracy

says:

We love reading out loud but some times I have their attention better then others. Thanks for the ideas.

Christina

says:

My boys are all wigglers and NEED to move. When I read books aloud, I give them something to keep their hands busy. Usually it’s a coloring sheet (even for my 9 year old), sometimes legos or building blocks. They can move as much as they like, as long as their quiet. Even though it doesn’t always look like they’re paying attention, when I ask questions they have accurate responses to what we’re reading about!

Jessica

says:

These are some great ideas!

Katherine Kastner

says:

I sure could use a support system/group- contact and encouragement and help. My almost 9 year has special needs. She has been diagnosed with epilepsy and the medicine she is on compounds any previous hyperactivity. Also, she shows signs of dyslexia.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Katherine,
We would love to help you in any way that we can. We are available for phone calls at 715-477-1976 and email at support@allaboutlearningpress.com. Also, our Facebook page is very active, and we recently asked how many of our Facebook fans are dealing with some sort of special needs in their homeschools, and we found that very many of them are. You can read over that post here.

Great ideas! I have one that will sit still but has a wandering mind and I have one that will NOT sit still. I look forward to trying out these methods!

Leslie

says:

These tips are right on!! Two of my four are wigglers. I usually take advantage of audio cds in the car, reading during breakfast or snack time (before bed), and I even let my wigglers take advantage of the “controversial” tip. Usually, they end up coloring or building with Legos (I have to admit that sometimes they spin on the floor).

Cheralyn Raymer

says:

There are some great ideas here. I have 4 children 3 of whom don’t always like to sit still. Love these ideas.

Kristin

says:

I agree that timing is everything! You’ll have to experiment with this to find the time that is best for your child.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Kristin,
Yes! And when you find the perfect time, your children will change and you may have to adjust again.

Marion

says:

Great ideas to keep at the forefront!
My struggle with 5 kids ranging in age from 3-12 is that I have some kinesthetic learners and some very easily distracted ones (whatever the kinesthetic chooses to do becomes a distraction to the other!!)
There are days I’m able to manage it but other days I need to divide my time and read in sets.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Marion,
Yes, that would be difficult. I would think it would take some trial and error and just plain getting used to it time to work out how to read to everyone with enough movement and not too much distractions. Maybe try after exercise, when your kinesthetic learners are a bit more wore out?

Carisha hullet

says:

This article has some great tips I am going to try. First up, exercise time before story time…

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Carisha,
Some kids do great with exercise right before read alouds, but others (one of my kids) are too wound up to listen after hard play. I have to make sure my son gets plenty of exercise, and then does something to wind him down like music or chores, then he can focus to listen. It’s about trial and error a lot of times to find what works best with your individual children.

Julie B.

says:

I agree that this last “crazy” idea works. When I first read it, it clicked because I have a wiggler. He likes to do things like play with his cars or Legos while I read aloud. It was an “A-ha” moment for me. I started to allow him to do this during read alouds and when I checked his comprehension it was always good. Amazingly, his brain is tuned in when it appears that he is busy doing something else!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Julie,
Thank you for sharing how this “crazy” idea worked in your home!

Lisette

says:

I have no problem with my kinesthetic learner 6-year-old-son when it comes to being attentive and sitting still because he LOVES storytelling time. I allow my toddler to play while I am reading or I’ll just point some pictures to catch his attention. :)

Rebekah M

says:

I have four children ranging from 4-12. I love to read out loud to them all and I think they still like having me read to them. My frustration is that they just walk around and play. I guess I think they should just set still and listen and enjoy. I just keep reading hoping that something is being heard.
I have seen reading improvement with my oldest son.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Rebekah,
If you get frustrated with the walking around, maybe consider giving them sit down tasks they can do to keep busy. I’ve been know to even give my kids a basket full of towels and other laundry to fold while I read aloud!

Melody

says:

I think these are all really great ideas! I wish teachers would consider using more of these ideas in the classroom.
We are very fortunate that our daughter loves reading but she does like to move around sometimes! We also use audio books when she is drifting off to sleep – she really enjoys that!

Amy Williams

says:

I have a child that doesn’t like picture books. Yes. I know that sounds really weird. He wants to have a book that is not “strange”. I finally figured out that he wants the picture to match the words on the page without the “artistic stuff” around the page. He wants no nonsense stuff but loves the make believe stories. Are there any suggestions with picture books that are not “artistically creative” but “down to earth”. We like Eric Carle books but are there any others? He is not yet ready for chapter books. We are on Level 2 in the AAR and he loves them because the pictures match the words on the page.
Thank you for any suggestions.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Amy,
First, you may wish to revisit chapter books. I made the mistake with my oldest in assuming that he wasn’t ready for chapter books, because the first few I tried were at a much higher level. Maybe try My Father’s Dragon, Dolphin Adventure, or Little House in the Big Woods (easier to comprehend than other Little House books).

I don’t have suggestions for picture books that meet your needs. I’m not sure I understand what he would consider not strange. I suspect, since you know what he likes, that you would just have to look at each book before you decide. Sorry that’s not much help.

Jennifer

says:

Amy,
I have found that some of the Old books I have (can still be purchased on amazon or downloaded free) might suit your son’s reading book style & level:
1) Dick and Jane books
2) Ladybird – Peter and Jane Series
3) Royal Readers (free Archived pdf series)

Heather

says:

We have old school looking desks. I took one of my resistance bands and tied it on the back legs. Now my son or daughter can put their feet on it and bounce them around as long as they are sitting there. They actually do more work at their desks because of it. It’s not noisy and we all benefit :)

Laura

says:

Thank you for all the great ideas. I teach three boys ages 2-6. My younger sons usually play with building blocks during read alouds. My oldest son will sit still or draw on a boogie board.

Jennifer

says:

I read aloud to my children at breakfast…they are still sleepy from the night before, so it kind of wakes them up while they sit and eat and think about what I’m reading. I LOVE the idea to read to them while they are in the tub…I read while I”m in the tub, so I wonder why I never thought of this before? Good ideas! Thanks for sharing!

J Price

says:

I will be trying out so of these tips soon! Very helpful.

Jessica

says:

This is great! I have a very active 2year old, who luckily enjoys reading -but if we don’t get our wiggles out or if the book isn’t engaging then we lose him to other games/activities. We have found that right before nap/bed and after physical play he is most willing to sit still and even would read right throw the sleep time if we let him keep picking out books. Hoping he will be a book work!

Jean S

says:

Some great tips – thanks!

Katherine H

says:

Thanks for the tips!

Jennifer

says:

My daughter still knits while she reads as an adult. We started it when she was little and she still has to be doing something in order to read.

Danielle

says:

This is a great list! I would also add listening to books on an iPod or other listening device. Then they can listen while they do things like ride bikes or jump on the trampoline.

Alison

says:

Legos and blocks are a must in my house as well as my classroom. My children and my students alike can keep their hands busy and focused on something so their ears can be open to hearing stories.

Giselle

says:

I have wigglers in my house. And bedtime for us has been the best approach for read aloud time for the boys. And my daughter loves to draw out what she hears in the story.

Gina

says:

I have my wiggler brush my hair while I read aloud to him. He sits on the couch and I sit on the floor. That way he can see over my shoulder to any pictures. His hands stay busy and he listens!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Gina,
If it works for you, great! But I so couldn’t handle a kid touching my hair while I read. It would be too distracting for me. :)

Becky Colvin

says:

While I personally enjoy sitting still and letting the story carry me away, auditory learners need to have something to do while listening. I had a teen in my class that just couldn’t be still physically. When I sternly asked him about the material I had just presented, he readily replied almost word for word what I had said. It is important to accept their differences and allow the students to use their learning styles to the best advantage.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Becky,
Yes! It is easy to assume all people learn best the way we ourselves learn best, but we need to remind ourselves that there are many “right” ways to learn.

April Moore

says:

This is awesome… My little one is half and half on the wiggles meter. I now have great ideas for how to read to her and when. I saved this article as a reference!

Laurel

says:

I am so happy to read this article. I am a teacher and was talking to a parent the other day about the importance of reading aloud to children of all ages. It increases vocabulary, builds comprehension, and strengthens life long reading habits! I also consider reading, then shared reading, aloud, through all the school years, if possible!
Thank you for your wonderful articles!

Erica

says:

I usually let my kids color during read alouds. The pictures usually pertain to the story I’m reading, but I don’t require it. This seems to stretch ready time considerably, even for my 4 yr old.

Eileen

says:

I was surprised that your last tip is considered controversial. It was the first thing I thought of when I saw the title of this post, and is a commonly recommended solution in the homeschool circles in which I travel. Plus, at least for my wigglers, it works! :)

I really love these idea posts. Genuinely helpful suggestions to promote an already excellent program!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Eileen,
I agree that the last tip seems obvious for me and my wiggly kids, but many parents assume that children must sit still and calm in order to listen. It’s probably all those lovely photos we see of moms and children snuggling lovingly on the couch with a book. That has never been a reality for me

Bethany W

says:

My daughter usually is a snuggler during read alouds but there are times when she just can’t sit! She usually asks for paper and crayons and will draw a picture pertaining to the story as I read… after I am done, she tells me about her picture and why she drew it and connects it back to the story she just heard! It’s a win, win!

Rachel

says:

I like to have the boys act out the stories that we are reading when they are in a super wriggly mood. Sometimes we make up hand signals they do every time they hear a certain word. Other times, we read a section and they act it out. When performing what I have read it gives me an insight on how well they comprehend the material and they have a blast moving and pretending.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Rachel,
My boys have often enjoyed building projects related to the history I read aloud. I have particularly fond memories of one Viking longboat, complete with dragon figurehead and mini-figures with morning star maces, built from Lego.

Pam

says:

Great thoughts! Lots of wiggly kids out there and fidgets help wonderfully! Chewing things like gum, fruit snacks, twizzlers, anything chewy can help them concentrate as well as it provides deep pressure into their jaw which is calming.

Paula

says:

I wouldn’t say my son is wiggly, but he has to be doing something with his hands if he’s just sitting and listening (for any subject, not just read-aloud time). At the same time, he’s easily distracted, so I can’t let him build with Legos or play with a Hot Wheel because I’d lose his attention. After hearing a talk about this at a homeschool conference, I put together a box of “hand fidgets” for him – things he can squish around in his hands while he’s listening but that won’t distract him from his lesson. (I even had to limit him to one fidget at a time – he discovered the kitchen scoop that you squeeze at the bottom to release the contents makes a great catapult for the small, rubbery balls we have in the box!) We’ve put things like stress balls, little squishy rubber balls (the kind they might get in a bag of party favors), the squeezable scoop, hacky-sack type balls (for squishing, not kicking!), etc. in the box, and these have worked out great.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Paula,
My oldest son is like this; he needs to manipulate things in order to listen or even just think intensely. Funny thing, however, is that he doesn’t have to fidget with hands; he does equally as well if he plays with something with his toes! Yeah, we did a lot of homeschooling barefoot. :D

He will be 19 this week and is in his first year of college. He took his Thinking Putty and stress ball with him, because he knew he would need them.

Stacy

says:

My 6 year old is very wiggly! I let her draw on a white-board while I read. She draws pictures of the story, so I know she’s listening. I also let her play with legos. She acts out the stories. It works for us and has made reading much, much easier.

Rebecca

says:

My youngest two are the type that can’t hold still. When they first came I despaired of ever being able to read to them for more than a few minutes at a time. Now several years later they easily sit for 20 minutes if the story is to their interest. My advice is make most of your reading time something that intensely interests them. But still a minute or two of a good book that is harder. My other thing is, read for just a few minutes more often. But don’t quit just because it isn’t easy. Keeping on will (almost) always pay off . yesterday’s book even had pages without pictures and it still went well. One more idea that helps. Read some of the same books over and over.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Rebecca,
Lots of good ideas and helps here. Thank you.

And before you know it your kids will be begging for “just one more chapter, please!” of a book with no pictures at all!

Jenna

says:

At what age do parents stop reading aloud to them? I have 6.5 yr old. I make him read to me. Should i still be doing reading to him for the “read aloud” time allotment? i also have a 4 yr old, which i do all the reading to.

Stephanie

says:

I still read to my boys every night until they didnt want me to anymore – about age 11-12. My daughter and I still enjoy read alout time every day – she’s not quite 6.5

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Jenna,
All About Reading schedule 20 minutes daily of the parent reading aloud to the student right up through AAR Level 4. Most students are 8 to 10 when they finish AAR 4, so we recommend reading aloud daily to at least then. However, there is a lot of benefit in continuing reading aloud to children regularly to even older ages, even into high school. To name just a few:

– Students notice the rhythm and beautiful of language more easily when they hear it rather than see it.

– Parents are much more likely to have meaningful discussion of books they read aloud to their children than books children read alone.

– Children typically can comprehend books on a higher level than they can read themselves. Through read alouds, children can enjoy harder books.

– Books read aloud provide a common experience for everyone; it is a “together” activity. By the way, this last one has had a noticeable impact on my kids even though there is many years of difference in their ages. When I read aloud books to my younger kids that I read aloud years ago to their older siblings, there is a bonding that occurs when the olders reminisce with the youngers.

We do recommend listening to your children read aloud to you when they are learning to read, but having them listen to you read aloud to them is equally important.

Renee

says:

As squirmy as my kids are(and, boy, are they squirmy) they love read aloud a.

Mary Walker

says:

I’m definitely going to try reading while they are in the bathtub….why haven’t I done this yet!?!? Thanks!

Wendy Hoffman

says:

Thanks for the great ideas!

Karen Maddox

says:

our* not are

Kelly

says:

Great tips – it’s hard to remember to think outside the box sometimes.

Shawnda

says:

Great ideas.

Karen Maddox

says:

Thank you for collecting ideas to quiet our active ones!

Karen Maddox

says:

Thank you for collecting ideas to quiet are active ones!

Sarah

says:

My son loves listening to books on cd in his room during quiet time. He usually is doing something with his hands while listening as this article suggests, like building Legos or even looking through other books. He loves being read aloud to!

S

says:

I have students that can’t sit still these are really great tips for mak g my wiggles more manageable. Thanks

Candace G.

says:

I have a boy for whom reading is torture. I think some of these ideas for read aloud time will work! Thank you!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Candace,
You might also try reading different kinds of books. If you have been reading chapter books, try picture books. If you have been reading fiction, try non-fiction. Once you build up his listening comprehension, you can branch out again, but finding a kind of book that he does enjoy will help get to that point.

Tamara williams

says:

We do read a loud before bed. IT sets up a great bed time routine and it’s now something my boys really look forward to.

Teagon Potter

says:

Awesome tips! I recently got a book on cd from the library and my daughter has been loving listening to it every time we drive somewhere!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Teagon,
Many U.S. libraries allow your to “check out” digital audiobooks from their websites with your library card number. We use that to put audiobooks on my phone, so they can listen at home or while we are driving. Much easier than CD audiobooks.

April

says:

I have an extremely wiggly 10 yr girl and an 8 yr old boy who plays organized sports. They are very tired at the end of the day and to aid calming down I read aloud as a reward for getting the bedtime routine completed and getting into their own beds. Then i sit outside their bedroom doors in the light and read for 30+ minutes. The reward of hearing a story plus the end of the day tiredness really helps my kids get comfortable with sleep and drift off after I finish and we tuck them in for the night.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

April,
I always like the idea of bedtime read alouds, but it has just never worked for us. It sounds lovely.

Liz Tsirigoti

says:

What wonderful suggestions! My daughter usually sits still for reading time, but when she’s got the wiggles she holds a toy car in her hands. Rolling the wheels with her fingers seems to help keep her listening without creating any distractions.

Kim

says:

Amazing, I naturally have been doing several of your tips. Thanks for the encouragement. I have encouraged my kids for years (I have 11) to draw during read-a-loud time. I just couldn’t stand them sitting there doing absolutely nothing listening to stories. They will listen to reading till I loose my voice or have to go start dinner. Then they beg me to read again after dinner and chores are over. I have some very artistic children and they love art/reading time. They love audio books too, a savior for mom’s voice and some time. They listen to full audio stories off you tube while doing their chores, except I just put the kibosh on that because they slow down to a crawl on their jobs they are so engrossed in the stories. Now it’s a reward for getting their jobs and school work done. Lunch and a story work out great. That way if there is conversation it is being guided by the story at hand and not plummeting into nonsense and useless talk.
I start with setting books all around babies as soon as they are big enough to focus on something. It just always made sense to me to not let them just space out, but give them something with bright pictures to focus on. Many times one of my children’s first words is “book”.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Kim,
Thank you for sharing how read alouds have worked in your home. Great tips!

Dianna

says:

These look like such fun ways to work with, rather than against the wigglers! Acting out the story, even using simple hand gestures, and/or pausing at parts that students could fill in, due to rhyme and/or the repetitive nature of the book, can be a fun way to engage wigglers, too. It is so much fun to read expressively and encourage young readers/pre-readers to join in.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Dianna,
Great ideas! Thanks for sharing them.

Jen

says:

That last tip absolutely works! I was a bit of a sceptic as well at the beginning but it really helped my son listen more intently. Thank you for the great suggestions!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Jen,
Thank you for sharing your experiences with the last tip. A lot of parents (and teachers) get the idea that good listeners sit still, but while sitting still is necessary for some children to listen well, other children need to not sit still to really listen.

Sarah

says:

I have one that needs to do something or he can’t listen well. He remembers the most when he looks like he isn’t paying attention. I learned years ago to let him move, play, draw, etc. Often two or three of my kids will be making Lego creations, drawing pictures, or even looking at other books while I read. It used to drive me nuts, but I’ve grown accustomed to it. I even let them draw pictures or copy verses during church, much to the dismay of some of my friends, because they actually listen better that way. I want them to listen and learn more than I want them to sit perfectly still.

Crystal

says:

My 3 year old son always has to move no matter what we are doing. These ideas are great and I can’t wait to start using them.

Natalie

says:

I’ve read to my kids since they were infants so I never had a wiggling problem, they’ve just always been used to being read to. I would do voices and be as animated as possible to grab their attention. Now that they are at the learning to read age they are so eager to read. They are really enjoying their current All about reading program and are really enjoying the activities it has to offer.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Natalie,
You are blessed that your children have never had a wiggling problem.

However, many wiggly children have been read to from infancy, including my own. The need to move and fidget when listening and learning is just an attribute that some people have. Have you ever looked around at a congregation during a church sermon, or in a college classroom during a lecture? Lots of people fidget, and many of them are paying attention.

Mary Ann Hall

says:

Thanks so much for all your wonderful ideas!!

CabotMama

says:

Some days, I feel like the only time I am not reading out loud is during meals! Mealtime is when we talk about the day – what is coming up, what we’ve accomplished so far, and what did we learn.
Our Bible readings are going much smoother since I introduced coloring sheets. I try to find pictures that reinforce what we are reading. It’s the only consistent coloring time my 5th and 3rd graders have, so they enjoy it as much as the Kindergartener and Pre-K4 do. Also, scheduling Bible reading before schoolwork encourages the kids to want Bible reading to continue! The more verses Mom reads, the longer they can put off schoolwork!
Our history readings are on audio cd and we listen to three or four lessons on the way to co-op once a week. We follow up the next day with related activities and I’m pleasantly surprised how much they remember.
Our short unit study readings are right after Bible readings. I choose books geared towards the youngest, which keeps her attention but also gives the older kids time to just kick back and enjoy listening to a good book.
I don’t think my kids know how to go to bed without a story first. By then, they are so tired and just ready for good snuggles, with lovies in hand. Of course, they always beg for more story because it delays bedtime!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Thank you for sharing the many ways you and your children enjoy books and conversation together. Lots of great ideas here.

Susan

says:

I would love to win the All About Reading – I have a 5 and 2 year old and I’d love to try this curriculum! I do allow my children to move while reading aloud – as long as they’re listening and not talking!

Amy

says:

My almost 8 year old can rarely sit still while listening to a story. He jumps around, moves from chair to couch to floor, waves his arms in excitement. Frankly, being able to move about while he listens seems to improve his comprehension significantly. Movement is the natural state of many children, and does not impede understanding, but may improve it, I think.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Amy,
I do think movement improves understanding for many children. So much so that I provide coloring pages, blank paper, and a box of crayons per child in my Sunday School class, and I teach older elementary students. At home I never sit down to read aloud without having something for my kids to do, even if it is just doodling and coloring.

Johanna Barrow

says:

Thank you for these great tips! My son is very active so it’s imperative for me to be creative during read aloud time!!

kylia

says:

Some great ideas to try. I try and read at lunchtime whenever I can but this gives some great options.

Char

says:

Neat products. They intrigue me to try with my dyslexic son.

Allison

says:

Great ideas!

Jessica B.

says:

Great ideas! I have never thought of reading while the child is in the bath, but that’s a fantastic idea! We often read during meals.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Jessica,
I used to read aloud when my toddlers were potty training ;).

Gail

says:

Definitely will try this with my 3 yr. old. Thx!

CRYSTAL LADD

says:

Great ideas! Thanks for posting!

Brianna Beers

says:

I made reading part of our daily schedule to let me children understand that it is an important part of our daily routines. Now, they love when reading time comes!

Catherine

says:

Great ideas! I will definitely try some of these! Thanks for sharing! It is nice to know that I am not alone in this!

Amara Kwasiborski

says:

My children all like to do handicrafts while we read…embroidery, crochet “chains”, and drawing have all been wonderful during read-aloud.

Barbara

says:

We always had our kids drawing or Lego-ing while we read. Sometimes I would say, “Are any of you really listening?” And then they would blow my mind with specific recall details….something they couldn’t necessarily do if they were forced to sit still and listen.

Katie

says:

Love the ideas! Thanks!

Krissy

says:

Thanks for sharing!

Christina Orr

says:

My girls love reading at bedtime!

Sandi E

says:

Great ideas! Thanks for sharing :)

Ann

says:

I read aloud to my children until they were well into their teens. We read in the evenings, after everything was cleaned up for the next day. They usually did hand work (knitting, cross stitch, plastic canvas, etc.) while I read. We all have special memories of those times, and we got through a LOT of books! Now I’m reading to my grandchildren and getting them hooked on books too.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Ann,
Yes, definitely. Most families read aloud to their young children, but as soon as the child is reading well they stop. Don’t stop!

amber deuel

says:

This has always looked like a great program, I need to get one and I always
seem to go back to this one!

Anne

says:

This works for Mom, too, while my children read a loud to me! My daughter’s voice used to lull me to sleep. Now I work on embroidery and crochet projects. Guess what everyone is getting for Christmas!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Anne,
I had a big smile when I read this. I have a sweater -this- close to being finished. Maybe if I work on my knitting while my kids read I can wear it this winter. :)

m.l.

says:

We use legos while reading with our two boys. Nothing requiring instructions, just ‘free building’s. I enjoy receiving your emails.

Amanda Wallace

says:

I read to my wiggler at bedtime. She is usually snuggled up to her kitty, Ariel, petting her as she listens intently.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Amanda,
Yes! We should probably add pets to the list, as petting cats or dogs is a great help in getting wigglers to listen.

Susan

says:

My kids (age 6 and 4) love to listen to funny books…so I am always on the lookout for them.

Cheryl

says:

Thanks, my granddaughter isn’t so much a wiggler, as she is distracted. By almost anything. Using some of these ideas has helped her focus a bit more by changing things.

Diana

says:

Good ideas! I’ve got 2 that will sit and listen and wiggly one :)

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Diana,
My wiggly one is my one with the best listening abilities. She just has to be busy to listen well, which means listening looks like finger knitting, coloring, building with blocks, making doll beds under the kitchen table, doing headstands in chairs, and dozens of other things, sometimes all in the same hour!

Sara

says:

My youngest is a wiggler! He has to be doing something with his hands at first, but will eventually relax and ask for another book.

Lydia R.

says:

My younger one is always more interested when I’m trying to read to his older brother (instead of when I’m trying to read to him).

So far what he enjoys are books that are actually song lyrics; he loves singing and music in general. If I can “sing” books instead of read books to him, he’ll probably be more interested. *g*

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Lydia,
If he is interested in his older brother’s read alouds, then you may want to encourage that. My youngest has remarkable listening comprehension because of this. She enjoys long chapter books and historical fiction that her brothers weren’t ready for until they were years older.

Kate

says:

We love reading during lunch time! Best use of time and everyone is quiet.

Melissa

says:

I have no tips because thankfully my kids LOVE reading and don’t wiggle.

Rachael

says:

My boys are super wigglers! It’s encouraging to be reassured of these tips like thinking putty & doodling while listening. Thanks!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Rachael,
My kids do so much better with read alouds if they have something to do. I love reading aloud while they clean or fold towels, but I also like to have projects like cross stitching, painting, and such too.

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