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Q6: Should I read science aloud to my homeschooled kids? {Season 5, Episode 79}

October 14, 2019 4 min read

Should you read science aloud? Or should your homeschooled kids be reading their own science materials? In this podcast, we are going to help you figure out your answer to this common question!

Welcome to season 5 of the Tips for Homeschool Science Show where we are breaking down the lofty ideals of teaching science into building blocks you can use in your homeschool. 

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Q6 Transcripts

Should you read science aloud? Or should your homeschooled kids be reading their own science materials? It really depends upon where they are in their education journey.

Ideally, we don’t want to be reading our kids' textbooks aloud to them in high school, but how and when do you make the transition from reading aloud to your students reading their science materials on their own?

Like most things in homeschooling, there are no clear-cut age cutoffs, but there is a natural progression. And that is what we are going to discuss today!

Let’s dig into today’s question…

When should you stop reading science aloud to your kids?

First of all, let’s address the "when" you should stop reading aloud to your kids. The answer to this is never - read aloud those great novels to them as long as they will let you do so!

Reading aloud to your kids is something that you should do early, often, and as long as they want you to. Reading aloud to our children for at least 15 minutes a day has been proven to benefit their brains in a multitude of ways. 

But reading science aloud to them is a bit different.

At what point are they ready to start reading and learning rather than listening and learning?

There is a point at which our students can take over the reading reigns of their science education. This point is different for every child as it really depends upon their reading abilities and their comprehension skills.

The typical progression for reading science

There is a natural path you can take to transition from reading science aloud to your students to them reading their science materials on their own. Let's look at those steps.

Step 1 - Read aloud to them.

In the beginning, your students are working super hard on learning how to read - all that decoding is hard work!

So, to allow them to enjoy science, we read science aloud to them. At this point, your students can comprehend a lot more than they can read. By reading science out loud, they can learn about the subject at their level without having to struggle through the act of reading.

After you finish reading, you will discuss what you read with them and then ask them to narrate or give a summary of the passage to you. We chatted about how this works in episode 78. But you can expect to be reading science aloud for most of the early elementary years.

Step 2 - They read with you.

This second step is a transitional one – one that takes you from point a to point b.

When your students are reading fairly well, you can have them read all or part of their science with you. In our homeschool, we call this team reading. You can switch off paragraphs or just sit with your student as he or she reads the text to you. Either way, by reading science together you can help them with difficult and unknow scientific words to make sure they know what they are reading.

Just keep these things in mind:

  • Make sure that the materials you ask them to read are just below their reading level.
  • And don't force them to read aloud if they don't like to do so.

After you read, you will discuss the materials and still have the students narrate back to you what they have learned, just like you did in the first step.

I will say that some children don't need to go through this transitional step. Their reading ability rockets through the stages and they want to read science on their own right away. And this is precisely why we always discuss to gauge their comprehension of the materials.

Either way, you can expect the transition from step 1 to step 3 to happen in the later elementary years and heading into the middle school years.

Step 3 – Read alone and discuss.

Once, you are confident that your students can handle reading their science on their own, let them do so!

Again, make sure to always make time to discuss the materials so that you can verify that they are understanding what they have read. This discussion time gives you a chance to make sure they are picking up on all the key points.

Wrapping it up

So, you start by reading aloud science to your students. Then, as their reading skills develop, they move through a transitional period where they read the materials with you. As their reading confidence grows, they can read their science materials on their own and discuss it with you afterward.

The pace at which your student moves through this progression will differ but moving them through these steps will set them on the path to learning science with confidence!

So I trust that by now you understand a bit more about when and how to read science aloud to your students. Check out these articles for more information on the benefits of reading aloud and a few tips on how to stay sane during your read-aloud time:

Next week, we are going to chat about teaching one discipline or multiple disciplines per year.  Until then, I hope you have a great week playing with science!

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