Family Reading and Devotions
Freedom is one of the biggest blessings of choosing to homeschool your children.
You can focus on: “what kind of home environment- what kind of nurturing feelings do I want to cultivate in these little souls that God has given me to raise?”
Beyond the typical breakfast, lunch, and dinner staples, in our homeschool, there are two key parts of the day: morning (or sometimes afternoon) reading time and family night-time devotions. We call these the “bookends of our day.”
Listen to April Lesh’s podcast episode.
When I ring the bell for reading time, the kids drop whatever they are doing, and we all sit together in the living room. While there are times set later in the day for silent reading, the first thing in our school day is reading together as a family. I always include a snack closer to the end of reading time.
I want them to associate the happy feelings of the tasty, delicious chocolate that they’re eating with reading together, because I want them to build good memories around reading time with Mom.
Weekly bible verse
Each week, I select a new Bible verse and read it aloud a few times before everyone begins reciting it together. We recite it about 5-10 times each day. Usually, they can recite it from memory within a few days. We are currently memorizing Psalm 127:1.
A Song of Ascents. Of Solomon.
Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain.
I want my kids to become familiar with the classic hymns so they can absorb that rich theology. It’s not as common for these songs to be included in church services today, so it’s up to us parents to teach them to our kids.
We like to learn all of the verses, but right now, we are focusing on four different songs, so we are simply becoming familiar with them.
- “Christ Arose”
- “There is a Fountain Filled with Blood”
- “When I Survey the Wonderous Cross”
- “The Old Rugged Cross”
We also read a short story (usually about one-and-a-half pages long) about a person in American, world, or church history. If everyone is engaged and still seems focused, we might read some from a history book to dig deeper.
Poetry tends to be one of the first things nixed off of the list in homeschooling. It doesn’t seem as important as many other academic staples, but I would encourage you to prioritize poetry.
Poetry feeds the soul
Because of the rhyming structure, kids are more easily able to memorize poetry, and they develop a strong sense of accomplishment when they are able to recite it.
Here is the poem we are currently reading together:
Courage, Courage, Courage!
By Edgar Albert Guest
When the burden grows heavy, and rough is the way,
When you falter and slip, and it isn’t your day,
And your best doesn’t measure to what is required,
When you know in your heart that you’re fast growing tired,
With the odds all against you, there’s one thing to do:
That is, call on your courage and see the thing through.
Who battles for victory ventures defeat.
Misfortune is something we all have to meet ;
Take the loss with the grace you would take in the gain.
When things go against you, don’t whine or complain;
Just call on your courage and grin if you can.
Though you fail to succeed, do not fail as a man.
There are dark days and stormy, which come to us all,
When about us in ruin our hopes seem to fall.
But stand to whatever you happen to meet—
We must all drink the bitter as well as the sweet.
And the test of your courage is: What do you do
In the hour when reverses are coming to you.
Never changed is the battle by curse or regret,
Though you whimper and whine, still the end must be met
And who fights a good fight, though he struggle in vain,
Shall have many a vict’ry to pay for his pain.
So take your reverses as part of the plan
Which God has devised for creating a man.
Story Read Aloud
Finally, the last part of reading time is a book. Right now, we are reading the classic “The Chronicles of Narnia.” There is something special about reading aloud together- where everyone is able to bond over the same story.
Family Night-Time Devotions
As much as we all love reading time, our absolute favorite part of the day is family devotions with my husband and all of our kids. We gather around the living room again every night before bed. The whole family sits together, and nobody wants to leave. This is the final bookend of the day- after dinner and all the chores have been completed.
“It’s the one time of the day when the whole house, from top to bottom is pretty much spotless. Everything’s put away in its right place, and everything is clean, and it’s a good feeling to know this is how we wind down our day. We can be calm and relaxed in our souls because our environment is calm and relaxed.
Some nights we start with singing hymns, and other times we start with Dad reading straight out of the Bible or a devotional. Then, we follow up with a chapter or two (or three or four) from our read-aloud. Right now we are currently reading “The Wingfeather Saga.”
This time is so precious because it sparks conversations as a family. Sometimes it brings up questions, and sometimes we end up talking about our day.
I would encourage you to really try to fit something like this into your daily schedule. Something where you are gathering as a family, developing memories and establishing these habits.