Read Alouds and Legos are like peanut butter and jelly; they just go together. (Full disclosure: I dislike peanut butter, but my kids love PB&J).
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One of the questions or concerns that I often hear from the parents of young children is that their children have a hard time being still and focusing when they read aloud. Too often, the solution is to stop reading or spend the whole time stressed out about getting the little one to sit still.
Instead of being a fun learning experience, it becomes a stressful chore for both the mom and the child.
My Own Experience and Background
I had a habit, some might say a bad habit, of doodling in my notebooks when I was listening to a lecture in a class. Later in graduate school, I would eat dry Lucky Charms while listening to the professors.
I knew that I could eat and listen or doodle and listen, though I sometimes tried to break the habit. It was not until I was talking about it to one of my graduate professors that I realized it helped me focus. The professor said it did not bother her because she knew that it was keeping my hands busy so my mind could focus on what she was saying.
This concept really helped me better understand how my brain worked and has been super beneficial in allowing me to help both my public school students and now my own homeschooled children find ways to help them listen.
Legos are great for working with while listening because they can be done quietly and without a lot of movement, and this keeps them from being distracting to the other children in the room.
We particularly like free building instead of kits for read-aloud time because it allows their brains to still focus on what they are hearing. Younger children can work with Duplo blocks.
As a bonus, Legos are great for helping with fine motor skills and creativity.
Are Legos the Only Option?
Legos are a great tool but just one of many great options for read-aloud time. My daughter often worked on her hat loom or colored pictures while I read aloud. Other students enjoy snack time as you read.
Any quiet activity that does not take too much mental focus can be great for read-aloud time.
Do All Students Need an Activity?
Some students can sit and listen to a read-aloud for long periods without any activity and may prefer to sit and listen.
Activities are particularly helpful for those like me and my son who have ADHD but can benefit many children who do not struggle with ADHD. It is all about what works best for the individual child.
If read-aloud time is going great in your home, do not feel the need to make changes. However, if you are disappointed with your read-aloud time and feel your children struggle to focus, do not be afraid to try Legos or another quiet activity.
These activities can also work well with audiobooks to get in even more great literature. Nothing fully replaces the example and bonding of having a parent read aloud, but audiobooks are an excellent way to supplement that and fit in all of the great books you want your children to enjoy.
Blog Posts with More Read-Aloud and Audio Book Resources
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