How reading became one of our favorite activities…!!!
One of the most important things we wanted to do while homeschooling Aarohi was to stay away from taking any kind of Academic approach. We aspired to teach her everything as far as possible through some or other activity as hinted in our article ‘What Inspired Our Schooling – Sir Ken Robinson‘. This became a particularly hard challenge as how can one teach reading without actually teaching alphabets or sitting through boring sessions of reading books. Don’t get me wrong, we absolutely love going through books, but we developed that love over a period of time by reading hundreds of novels, comic books etc.
In fact, our love for reading is the reason we got into writing this blog in the first place.
We believe reading is one of the most important activities for the development of a healthy mind. Reading about something and then creating images in one’s mind about how it looks is one of the most creative activities. But one cannot expect a child to automatically have an affinity towards it. So, what we did was, we completely skipped the part of teaching her how to read and write alphabets and went directly to reading. How we approached reading was through storytelling. One of the advantages of joining The Old Library at Mall of the Emirates is that they organize weekly storytelling sessions in which they read out a storybook in a very engaging manner. Aarohi loved going to these sessions and slowly started wondering what the reader was actually doing. Soon enough she herself wanted to do that.
Another activity we did was, we visited a bookshop called Kinokuniya at The Dubai Mall. Here they invite the Authors of children books to come and conduct storytelling sessions with a huge audience of kids. This was exceptionally good for Aarohi as the Authors are so lively and entertaining in reading their own books. Also, Aarohi gets to interact with a whole lot of kids during these sessions. This also encouraged Aarohi to show interest in reading. We cannot say enough good things about Kinokuniya as it is such a great experience for all of us to go there and spend time amongst the huge spread of books, toys, and educational games. When we go there, we end up spending hours without even thinking about going back home. They also have a coffee shop inside where one can sit and relax.
So, now that Aarohi’s interest in reading was growing, we had to come up with an entertaining way of getting her started. We cannot emphasize enough on the importance of bedtime stories. We bought a bunch of Level 1 storybooks from the Oxford Stationary and started reading those to her before going to sleep. The approach we took was to read very slowly while pointing at the words we were saying out loud. As a result of this what happened is that she started identifying the words by the sound of its pronunciation. Over a period of time, she started reading the stories with us. Eventually, she started reading the books on her own. But this doesn’t take her away from our bedtime story sessions. Sometimes it is with books and sometimes it is verbal. She’s almost 6 years old now and has started reading books on her own. Now that she’s older and has more patience than when she was younger, Snehal has reverse engineered the process by introducing her to the alphabets and how they can be assembled together to form words. Another interesting thing Aarohi has started doing nowadays is that she leafs through her storybooks and starts narrating her own version of the stories by looking at the pictures on the pages. This is very encouraging to us as this is what we had hoped would be the result of this approach we took in getting her interested in it. Of course, she has a long way to go, but we think we’re off to a good start. Give it a listen and enjoy: