The Magical World of Read-Aloud: Make It a Habit

I began reading aloud to our children when they were inside my womb.  And since I was pregnant every 2 years for 8 long years, there was a lot of reading going on and whether you were around me or inside me!!!! You see, our eldest son loved bedtime and yes, nap time stories!  We began exposing him to giant 8×10 photos of faces at a few weeks old, board books at 2 months, giant picture books when he could sit at 6 months and books with simple plots around 10 months or so.

Oh my, we have memorized so many books because  there were all time favorite ones that had to be read again and again.” We’re going on a bear hunt, we’re gonna catch a big one, I am not scared! ”  “A told B and B told C, I’ll meet you at the top of the coconut tree,”  “And I’ll huff and I puff, and I’ll blow your house down,”  “Pip-pero-pembo-rosa-rembo, char-bari, ruchi-pip peri-pembo!”  “…. The spider didn’t answer. She was very busy spinning her web.”  ” I do not like them in a house. I do not like them with a mouse.I do not like them here or there.I do not like them anywhere.” and so many more lines !!!

So, when our eldest was around 15 months, I was pregnant with our 2nd who most likely enjoyed the daily, and yes,  twice daily bonding of stories through books our eldest would pile up when it was time for nap/bedtime. And somehow that was our story, for the coming babies and toddlers.

It has been 18 years since I started reading to our children, and yes I am still at it with our  2 youngest  children for bedtime.  I am thankful that homeschooling all of them has made READING A LOUD a given, something that’s all part of a day’s work.  But reading a loud never seemed work really, it was really precious bonding where adventures happen, questions are asked, minds are opened, hearts are aligned and imaginations are ignited.  I can still hear the giggles, the shrieks of suspense, and loads of laughter as I try to recall the amazing books we have shared together as a family.  I can still remember how imagination and humor have tweaked certain stories  eventually turning them to  laughing sessions! Yes, laughing until your eyes start to tear—those were precious times indeed.

There are so many articles out there.  Evidence abounds.   You can search or read a few here.  Experts say it only takes 15 minutes of Reading Aloud a day to make a world of difference.

So, please, while your children are young, carve out that time and make it a habit. You’ll never ever regret it, this I can promise.

Here are some simple tips to make reading a loud a habit:

  1. Start them young.   Yes, while at the womb and just keep books around, available and accessible for every stage of their growing years.
  2. Choose good books. From  board to picture books,  from Bible storybooks to actual chapters from a book of the Bible, from simple stories with rhythm and rhyme to simple storybooks, from short stories to chapter books, from short novels to biographies, there are thousands of titles to choose from.   You can check this list.  Try to include local material like the stories from Adarna House,  OMF,  or Tahanan Books.  Some of our favorites were: “Chenelyn, Chenelyn, Putot, Ay! May Bukbok ang Ngipin ni Ani!”  For young ones, avoid those books with characters they see on TV or on gadgets.
  3. Establish a routine that best suits your schedule. It takes two to Read-A-Loud. It will only work if both the reader and the “reedee”  ( haha , invented my word there!) are both available and up to it. Parents can take turns.  Bedtime seems best but if breakfast is more doable, then make that your daily habit. If daily is not possible, then aim for maybe 3x a week . Make up on weekends!  For as long at it is happening, then that is good. Consistency and sustainability are important to maximize the countless blessings of this habit.
  4. Turn off all gadgets during READ-A-LOUD time, yes, including the reader’s phone.  Or,  make a “no gadget rule for bedtime!”
  5. With older kids and chapter books, you can assign portions to be read by your child. And for a shared experience, do not read ahead. Discover the book with your  children.
  6. Try to “live” the story.  Change tone or type of voice depending on who is speaking. Adjust your “reading” depending on the mood of the story.
  7. Be affectionate and show how eager you are to bond.   Do lots of hugging, tickling and hugging!
  8. Do book exchange with a group of friends (but don’t rush to exchange the book that your child is  attached to, okay? ) so you don’t have to spend.

All four children read on their own now.  Though, I am still get to read to my younger children (ages 13 and 11) , I know these precious days when I can still have their complete attention are numbered. So, here I am sharing with you to encourage you to pick up that book, let  the other things on your to do list, wait and read-a-loud.

Proverbs 18: 15 The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out.

How Sports Make a Difference

I write this on the last game of Kobe Bryant after 2 decades of amazing basketball!  Though as family,  we are for Boston Celtics, we  salute Kobe Bryant and his contribution to the sport that has somehow partly molded our journey as a family with 3 young boys passionately into the sport. Sister Raya is a fan as well but she prefers the tennis court to play in.

Let me share with you amazing benefits sports has provided our family:

1.  Over-all better health for all!

As a doctor-parent-athlete, this is high on my list. Moving and improving circulation, exposure to the outdoors, the release of stress reducing chemicals, the sleep benefits, the boost to ones immunity are amazing benefits while one is having fun!  And  these only concern “physical health”!  We also need to consider the other aspects of health: mental, emotional, social, etc… When I am down and out or stressed,  a good tennis game/training never fails to clear my  head and yes, control my emotions.

If you need further information, just google: “Health benefits of sports!” Try this one.

2. Unforgettable experiences together as family

My tween son, when asked about his most favorite experience so far, wrote lengthily about our 2012 once in a lifetime experience of stepping into TD Garden to watch our Boston Celtics play the famous San Antonio Spurs.  That was the time when the BC had the Big 3 at their peak:  Kevin Garnet, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.

Photo Credit: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/wSA-dZE53AU/maxresdefault.jpg
Photo Credit: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/wSA-dZE53AU/maxresdefault.jpg

Of course, that is the highlight and indeed,  truly one for the books. But the special, heartwarming bonding times are the ones when we’re all huddled together watching our team battle it out for NBA Championships, creating our own poster board (in an illustration board) for the play offs, or  the  efforts to secure a giant Boston  Celtics tarp from a Adidas manager-friend (which has been mounted on one side of our sons’ room),  or even the long trips to Araneta  for a UAAP  La Salle-Ateneo games.

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At the TD Garden in Boston, rooting for Boston Celtics !
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We are hard core fans!
This giant tarp on our sons' room was provided by a generous colleague of Gilbert from Adidas>
This giant tarp on our sons’ room was provided by a generous colleague of Gilbert from Adidas.

For husband Gilbert, a highlight every weekend is seeing our sons grow and eventually outgrow him, in height and skill (coming soon, Papa!) as they battle it out on 2 on 2 in street basketball. From plastic balls, to junior size basketballs and now to size 10 basketball shoes, yes, they’re all growing fast and yes furious!

My view from the 2nd floor every afternoon on Saturdays or holidays
My view from the 2nd floor every afternoon on Saturdays or holidays

Raya and I get to play tennis and understand the sport together.  Sometimes we play doubles against another mommy-daughter couple or vs a hitting trainer.  It’s been almost 8 years since Raya picked up a racket,  and that’s from baby rackets to junior rackets, from cute trainers to size 8 tennis shoes!

Raya has been into tennis since she was 5 years old!
Raya has been into tennis since she was 5 years old!
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She is hoping to try out for the tennis varsity team when she finally bids goodbye to homeschooling this year.

 

Apart from the actual time on court, there is also the unmatched high in watching your children play a sport they love best, seeing them win and yes, seeing them lose. ….seeing them do chest bumps and high fives and witnessing them shed tears  and hug their coach and teammates!

There is just so much happiness in the act of “cheering” for a loved one: beats any cheering for a well loved, famous athlete for me any day.  Once, it had to be another way around.  Mama Donna, and her tennis team, Team Tenez,  joined a ladies doubles league in Manila Polo Club. Raya and Gino were our team cheer leaders complete with same colored outfits and pompoms!  (I think we won in best uniform because the the judges couldn’t resist our cute “mascots” hehe) . When an older sibling comes to support a younger brother for a championship game, isn’t that precious?

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Because Mommy Donna is a player herself facing more losses that than wins, the children and I are able to have a whole lot of exchanges about what it means to be an athlete and to be part of a team!

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Team Tenez in PLTL 2015 in Manila Polo Club

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3. The Added Benefits of Continuous Bonding outside of the court

I am glad that our children got used to having their parents watch their games.  We (but I had to learn more than my husband) had to sort of learn the “right way” to watch their games.  Of course, we couldn’t let our sons control us but yes we ( I actually!) had to adjust on some areas to sort of meet halfway and compromise. There were cheering styles, comments after a game,  behavior as spectators that weren’t helpful or at some times downright bothersome for our players.  We eventually found our groove!

With this shared experience, I see a whole lot of what our sons are faced with, how their team mates play, how their coach works and all the ins and outs of every game. That’s a whole lot to draw from and it’s a good way to know more about our children, to feel for them and yes, it becomes a good backdrop for continuous and open communication.  Eventually, you move from talking about sports to a whole lot of other topics. And with boys, and eventually men, there is a whole new world in terms of communication, right?

The latest league our boys, Vince and Marco are a part. Largely with Vince's teammates in school. This is the Run and Gun League in Starmall every Sunday:)
The latest league our boys, Vince and Marco are a part of.. This is the Run and Gun League in Starmall every Sunday:)
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Look at our Marco! The team’s tallest, #11!
Gino with the Filipino Basketball Academy Grey Team in one summer league. Gino was the only homeschooled . He gained a lot of friends!
#9 Gino with the Filipino Basketball Academy Grey Team in one summer league. Gino was the only homeschooled . He gained a lot of friends! And brought home the championship!
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Gino wins an award in the Rookies League:)


The Filipino Basketball League Rookies League Teams and Coaches  in Acropolis.

4. The Priceless Lessons Learned in Sports

For the children:

  • Physical and Mental Skills
  • Value of Teamwork
  • New and Deeper Friendships
  • Mentoring/ Learning from another adult ( coach)
  • Discipline
  • Time Management
  • Obedience/ Respect for Authority (Coach, Referee, League)
  • Art of Winning and Art of Losing
  • Humility
  • No pain, No gain ( No win!)
  • Inexpressible Joy in Winning after Lots of Work
  • Value of Practice
  • The Importance of Priorities
  • Faith and Sports!! (one of my favorites!) Click on that highlighted link to know more about this.
  • How to Handle their Parents as Cheerleaders, “de facto” Coach
  • And so many more!
Coach Bernard Barcenilla of the Filipino Basketball Academy is a jewel of a coach and mentor. So blessed to have him on board overseeing our son's growth, in both sports and life skills!
Coach Bernard Barcenilla of the Filipino Basketball Academy is a jewel of a coach and mentor. So blessed to have him on board overseeing our son’s growth, in both sports and life skills!

For the parents:

  • Leading by Example
  • Application of Biblical Principles in Parenting
  • Learning How to Chill (My kids would all agree 100 percent)
  • Finding the Correct Balance in Raising Successful Athletes (Much more if they are siblings!)
  • Lots of Time Management and Planning
  • Supporting our Children’s Passions
  • Friendships with Co-parents
  • Lots of Love, Patience and Sacrifice
  • And so many more !
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The sweetest group of moms I met in a basketball league. Mostly mothers from of Gino’s teammates !

 

Indeed with this exhaustive list, I have to say,  parents, get into some physical activity yourself early on and “Start “em young!”

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2 Timothy 4:7 “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith;”

Philippians 3:13-14 “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

2 Timothy 2:5 “”Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules.”

1 Corinthians 9:25-27 “All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.” (NLT)