Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Using Audio Books in Your Homeschool

by Molly Evert
For years I viewed audio books as a nice supplement, to be enjoyed only as a treat, when we had inclination or money to do so. It wasn’t until I started regularly using audio books with our dyslexic son that I realized how their widespread, daily use could revolutionize our homeschool! Here are some ways I’m using audio books with each of our four children:

With our preschooler:

• Audio books develop a love of literature. Our preschooler listens every day during his rest time. Sometimes he listens to a special book again and again, while other days he discovers a new favorite.

• I love reading to my preschooler, but sometimes he wants to hear so many books that it is hard to satisfy his thirst! Audio books give him some measure of control; he can listen when he wants to, rather than waiting until mom is available.

With our emerging reader:

• Our emerging reader likes listening to a book and then trying to read it. Pre-listening before reading makes it easier for him to decipher names and tricky vocabulary.

• When the text is not too difficult, our emerging reader can read along while listening. This develops reading fluency, and helps him progress through a book even when some words are beyond his reading level. Bear in mind that it’s important to have access to the pause button for this activity, as sometimes the narrator gets ahead of the emerging reader and he may lose his place.

• I have spurred each of my three older boys to overcome a lack of reading confidence through the initial use of audio. We start out listening to a book that is within their ability to read. After a few chapters (when it starts to get really interesting!) I make the switch to text. The boys are excited enough to see what happens that they are willing to take a stab at reading the text. Excitement gives way to surprise as they see it isn’t as hard as they feared it would be. Voila! The gateway to chapter books has opened!

With our special needs child:

• Audio books have opened a whole new world for our dyslexic son. Through the use of audio books, he can work independently, at or above grade level. His interest in school has blossomed for the first time, and he is finally able to take personal responsibility for completing assignments, rather than waiting until mom can help him decipher his history book.

• Before we started regularly using audio books, our son thought that he hated books. Now, he has discovered that he loves them! He can finally sit down with a good book and actually enjoy “reading” it, an experience which many of us take for granted.

• Our dyslexic son’s reading level has grown over the years, but so has the difficulty of his schoolwork. Audio books enable him to keep up with a rigorous load of assignments.

With our high school student:

• Our high school student listens to audio books over the summer to get a jump start on the new school year. He enjoys listening, and the advance preparation will lighten his load in the fall.

• Some high school level books are really long! Audio books are a welcome break.

• Audio books help our busy high school son kill two birds with one stone. He listens while cleaning his room, working in the yard, and exercising.

As a break from family read-aloud time:

• We enjoy listening during lunch. Everyone is gathered together and quiet.

• We “redeem the time” daily by listening while driving to and from sports practices as well as whenever we take long road trips.

• Our children crawl into bed a half hour early so they can listen before falling asleep.

Molly Evert stays busy homeschooling her four boys, ages 5 to 14. Life is about to get even fuller, as she and her family eagerly await a precious baby girl, due in September. She is the creator of My Audio School , a website which provides educational audio content for children. You can find her articles and teaching podcasts on her blogs at  Counter Cultural Mom and Counter Cultural School , and on the e-zine Mentoring Moments for Christian Women.

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