“How much time should I spend teaching reading to my children?”
I don’t think I could possibly count the number of times that I’ve been asked that question.
In fact, I recently answered a similar question in a blog post about how much time to spend on spelling.
I hope this post will clear up the confusion and provide you with the answers you’re looking for.
Before I answer the question, I may need to clear up a potential misunderstanding. It’s fairly common for people to assume that “1 lesson = 1 day.” And in fact, many homeschool programs are written with this schedule in mind. So when people ask how much time they should spend on reading, often what they really want to know is how long it will take their child to complete an All About Reading lesson.
But the most important thing to remember is this:
In fact, some lessons may even take a week or more to finish. A number of variables including your child’s age, attention span, prior experience, and the difficulty of the concept being taught all play a part in how quickly your child can complete a lesson. And some of those variables may change on an almost daily basis!
But the beauty of the All About Reading program is that it is completely flexible and customizable. You can breeze through sections that are easy for your student and spend more time on more difficult concepts. Kobe’s story below illustrates this point perfectly.
Matthew Vinson’s story about his gifted son, Kobe, illustrates that it is best to let your child’s needs dictate the pace of your lessons. When Matthew began teaching Kobe in AAR Level 1, Kobe was just four years old. Matthew shares:
“It took Kobe fourteen months to complete all four levels. We did every lesson. We flew through Level 1, completing about three lessons every day. In Levels 2 – 4, Kobe was able to complete one or two lessons each day, with each lesson taking between 20-30 minutes. He was five years old when he completed Level 4.”
Click here to read the rest of Matthew and Kobe’s story.
While it’s pretty amazing that Kobe completed AAR Level 4 at such a young age, the most important take-away from Kobe’s story is that Kobe’s dad tried to keep their daily lesson time consistent, about 20-30 minutes a day.
So instead of being concerned about how much time it takes to complete a lesson, the better question to ask is …
The answer to this question is more straightforward. All About Reading lessons are designed so that you can work at your child’s pace. We recommend spending about 20 minutes per day on reading, but you can adjust this, if needed, for early readers or for older remedial students.
You’ll start each day by briefly reviewing some of the daily review cards, and then begin in the Teacher’s Manual wherever you left off previously. Some lessons may go quickly, and some may require more days. Work at your student’s pace and spend as many (or as few) days as necessary on each lesson.
In another recent Real Moms, Real Kids blog post, Robin Williams shared what a typical day with All About Reading looks like for her daughter, Belle. In the post, Robin shared that because Belle struggles with fluency, they sometimes take as many as four days to complete a single lesson. Robin keeps the review short and sweet, adapts games to make additional review more fun, and has figured out ways to make difficult portions of the lesson more palatable for Belle. In addition, they always stick to the 20-minute time limit so that Belle doesn’t get frustrated and lose interest in reading.
In a different post, Robin shared a great idea. Click here to read about how “buddy reading” has made reading lessons easier for Belle!
But as important as the reading lessons are, there’s something else that is just as important.
Reading aloud to your child is one of the most important things you can do to promote his or her future reading ability. In fact, this is such an important part of any reading program that it is actually added as a reminder at the end of every lesson in the All About Reading program.
Reading aloud for 20 minutes a day may not seem like a lot, but the cumulative effect cannot be overstated. It helps to look at the big picture to really understand just how important this is. Twenty minutes is a relatively small daily commitment, but it’s the “big picture” dividends that make it so worth the effort. Do you need more convincing? Here are 6 Great Reasons to Read Aloud to Your Kids.
So what exactly does 20 minutes per day look like in terms of long-term benefits?
It’s hard to imagine, but by reading aloud for just 20 minutes every day over a five-year period, your child will have the advantage of 600 hours of read-alouds. So what does that number mean? Well, think of it like this…
600 hours of read-aloud time is the equivalent of eighty-five 7-hour school days!
That equates to huge gains in vocabulary, comprehension, and background information.
And when you combine 20 minutes of read-aloud time with 20 minutes of direct reading instruction, you can rest assured that you are providing your child with the very best chance of long-term reading success.
How much time do you spend on reading instruction each day? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.