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How do I get them to SIT for read alouds?


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I'm always amazed when I see people in here say they read for hours every day to their kids. I don't get it. How? Now, yeah, mine are still young but I swear it's like herding cats when I'm trying to get them in the same room to listen. My 3 year old is just into everything all the time and my 9 month old is very distracting and loud. They will all interrupt constantly even though I've corrected them ad nauseum, won't sit still, and it just gets me angry, which defeats the purpose of having a read aloud time. :( I've tried having them color or do play doh but that lasts maybe 5 minutes until they're up leaving the room or something. My 7 year old is good at listening but, poor thing, she gets so distracted by the others. I really wanted to read a lot to her this year, and we've gotten through several chapter books so I guess that's good.... But I want to have a set, fun, read aloud time, even if it's just 15 minutes.

 

I'm just frustrated. How do yall get this done?

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I read while they eat.

 

Every time we have a meal, I read while they are busy shoveling food into their mouths. Usually by that point they are so engrossed that they linger around the table to hear until the end.

 

At your children's ages, I would just do an audio book for your seven year old to listen to either while you all are eating (so you can be hands free to help the other two) or in her room with headphones at some point during the day.  You could even start out reading and then switch to the audio book when things get chaotic. One day they'll be old enough to all sit and listen to you read, but until then let someone else read.

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Yep, reading at the lunch table.  It encourages them to sit longer and enjoy their meal (and actually EAT the veggies on their plates!), and I get a captive audience.  And, the 9mo won't be too affected, but getting the 3yo in a routine is helpful.  Like, every Monday morning we do outside play from 10:30 to 11, and then come in immediately and sit for story.

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KSinNS reminded me - you can always read at bedtime or naptime.  You are dealing with 3 very different receptive-vocabulary levels.  If you find it easier, pick one book for just you and your oldest, and get some lovely picture books for your 3yo and baby.  At that age, I look for 1-2 sentences per page, rhymes, surprising-in-a-good-way storylines, and/or repetitive text.

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The youngest are miles apart in development compared to your oldest. Reading at eating times sounds good, but otherwise, I don't think you can expect all three of them mto be able to listen to the same things. That might not come until a bit later.

 

I remember I used to read picture books to my oldest (who I later found out has ADHD) and I'd read them a bit slowly and we'd look at the pictures....and he'd wiggle and get bored so fast. (He was 3 or 4.). And then my dad, who probably also has ADHD or something like it, stopped by and read him a picture book. He read it at breakneck speed, flying through the pages. I thought, "How will that little child ever get anything from someone reading to him ilke that?!" But lo and behold, my son actually sat there long enough to get to the ending of the story for the first time ever. I guess his little ADHD brain wanted everything to be faster, faster, faster. After that, I read all his books lightning quick.

 

I'm sure at those ages (3 and 9mos) it's complete chaos, but eventually they'll be able to listen...and when that happens, there still isn't a lot of "sitting" to listen. My kids are 11 and 13 and they stil bounce around while I read--they put together Lego things, they sit on their heads on the couch, etc. :). Just wanted to give you a heads up that sometime they never actualy sit for a read aloud, but eventually they do start to listen.

Edited by Garga
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Oh see that's weird, I would have the opposite advice of some of the others.  I would read aloud *more* not less.  :)  I can tell you that my dd16 with ADHD never "sat still" for read alouds.  I would take her outside and let her run around and play while I read aloud.  Playing and movement doesn't *hurt* their comprehension at all.  In fact for some kids it *increases* their attention.  So that would be one thing to consider, whether your expectation is appropriate to their bodies.  If a child wants to be still, that's nice, but I wouldn't expect/require it.  So long as they can answer reasonable questions (what was the name, what happened next, what do you think will happen, what was your favorite part, where did they go, etc.), I just wouldn't worry about it.  

 

Sitting still is a nice goal, and there are ways to work on it.  Doesn't have to be as part of your read aloud time.  I mentioned both my kids have ADHD.  My ds is pretty off the charts for impulsivity and motion.  (He also has an ASD label and multiple SLDs.)  I keep him in swim and gymnastics classes usually 6-8X a week, just to keep his energy tolerable.  LOTS of motion with him.  And he can sit still and he can obey.  But he does it with supports (something for his hands, making sure he's in a good place with hunger and having done something physical first), and we have very *clear expectations* that we build up to.  When he was little, like under a year, we would set a timer and practice and make a big deal out of it.  Like Rah rah you sat in your high chair for 5 minutes, the timer went off, good job!  It's not like you just get to 30 minutes with some kids just magically because you want it.  He sits in church too, always has.  Now he might stim and have a bunch of repetitive motions or need someone to draw with him, and yes he has a bag of things (Bible picture books, etc.), but he can sit in church.  So if *sitting* is a goal for you, it's a worthy goal to work on, sure.  But you get there with WORK and you don't have to do it with read-alouds.  You have to have clear expectations, build up, provide supports, and make it a positive thing with rewards.  And it can even be kind of silly, a literal training: Now we're going to work on sitting!  What does it look like when we sit?  What do we do when we sit nicely for an activity?  Where are our hands?  Where is our bottom?  Could we sit for 60 seconds with the timer?  Y'all did great!  

 

The other thing with read alouds is readiness for the language.  My dd had no language disability, so at that age (K5) she was listening to Lang's Fairy Tales and very complicated stuff.  She was in motion, but she could understand it and enjoy it.  That's not NORMAL.  When you're working with a group of kids, you have that in spades.  Me, I would probably plan 3 read alouds, one for each age of kid.  So I'd have a read-aloud for the 7 yo, another for the 5 yo, and another for the 3.  Actually I can't tell from your sig their ages (because I'm lazy and don't do math for this).  So you could have the behavior expectation be WE'RE IN THE ROOM TOGETHER.  That's what I would enforce.  You may need a room with a gate.  Or you may need to practice ahead what *being in the room* means.  Like you would have some practice sessions where you go with them, maybe while the baby is napping, and you go hey, sometimes we want to be in one place and know where we are.  What is this place?  How could we know if we're in it? And you would practice making invisible boundaries and talking about them.  Then you would say let's practice being in this room with our timer.  Let's do 1 minute.  Great, you did a great job!  Then reward with treats. 

 

So you would practice being in the room and understanding those boundaries SEPARATE from the read aloud time, BEFORE the read aloud time.  Like drop read-aloud time for a couple days to work on this, kwim?  Behavior is where it's at.  Get your behavioral expectations and teach them and set up that structure.  Then, when you've got them understanding this is what it means to be in the room and we choose to be in the room when we're told for the length of the timer, you work up.  So then your timer is 1 minute, 5 minutes, 10 minutes.  Or maybe go from 1 minute to 5 minutes and use the read-aloud with the 5 minutes.  That way each kid has a read-aloud at their comprehension level, and it's short enough that they're left HANGING.  Wise mothers know you STOP at the cliffhanger.  You leave them hanging.  :D

 

I'm not unsympathetic to disabilities.  My ds has significant disabilities, so I know sometimes it's hard to achieve a goal.  It always goes back to small steps, clear instruction, not trying to do too much new at once, and getting behavioral control.  If you can't get them all in a room where you want them, that's where they start.  Whether they sit is irrelevant.  I'd be MUCH more concerned about the idea that you can't define a space and say this is where we are.  How are they to stay safe if they can't respect boundaries?  Do they respect boundaries at the pool?  At church?  In the car?  This is life.  Discipline is life.  And if you've got some SN going on complicating it, sure do some evals.  That's why I would do three read alouds, with one tailored for each kid.  That way you're totally jumping over that issue.  And it's all good, because then the others are getting the exposure to the language from the other read alouds.  

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The youngest are miles apart in development compared to your oldest. Reading at eating times sounds good, but otherwise, I don't think you can expect all three of them mto be able to listen to the same things. That might not come until a bit later.

 

I remember I used to read picture books to my oldest (whom I later found out has ADHD) and I'd read them a bit slowly and we'd look at the pictures....and he'd wiggle and get bored so fast. (He was 3 or 4.). And then my dad, who probably also has ADHD or something like it, stopped by and read him a picture book. He read it at breakneck speed, flying through the pages. I thought, "How will that little child ever get anything from someone reading to him ilke that?!" But lo and behold, my son actually sat there long enough to get to the ending of the story for the first time ever. I guess his little ADHD brain wanted everything to be faster, faster, faster. After that, I read all his books lightning quick.

 

I'm sure at those ages (3 and 9mos) it's complete chaos, but eventually they'll be able to listen...and when that happens, there still isn't a lot of "sitting" to listen. My kids are 11 and 13 and they stil bounce around while I read--they put together Lego things, they sit on their heads on the couch, etc. :). Just wanted to give you a heads' up that sometime they never actualy sit for a read aloud, but eventually they do start to listen.

I just wanted to pull this down because I love it so much.  :D  That is AWESOME.  

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Adding: I don't have tons of littles, but I think there probably is a herd effect, where one leads and the rest follows.  If you think teaching them your behavioral goals *together* would be too hard, I would separate them out and start with the oldest.  So teach the *oldest* how to understand in the room and what the behavioral expectations are, then teach the next, and so on.  That way it starts to trickle down with a culture.  And of course kids like personal time with Mommy.  Bring treats, make it fun.  

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I read to my herd (7, almost 5, 2.5 and 5 months) at meals.  During breakfast we read novels or occasionally long complex picture books that stretch out over several days.  The kids interrupt CONSTANTLY.  I call up every ounce of patience I possess and accept that I simply won't get through any sentences uninterrupted.  We go very slowly, give everyone a chance to look at the pictures, discuss questions that they raise, acknowledge each time the toddler points to "S!!  Mine!!  Sssssssssss!!" and stop as required to get them more food, discipline poking, clean up spills, etc.  Sometimes we only make it through half a chapter, but I always find a graceful stopping spot before any of us kill each other.

 

To help me remember to be on my best behavior, I record our reading sessions (interruptions, bickering and all).  Once we finish a novel I burn the recordings onto a CD which the boys like to listen to during play times and rest time.

 

At snack time I read picture books that are geared more toward the little kids.  I have a special shelf where I keep books that are a challenging complexity for the toddler without being too far over his head.  Each of the boys can pick a book from the shelf to be read during morning snack.

 

Before naps and bed are the only times the kids are read to individually.

 

Wendy

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Food.

I have six: 10, 8, 5, 4, 2, 2. The only time I can really manage group read aloud's is during lunch- and even then, one of the 2-year-olds is rather loud if he doesn't like what is available to eat.

 

when I had babies, I read at bedtime. Either the littles were asleep, or with dh.

Edited by athomeontheprairie
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Reading during meals works well here, too. Also audiobooks in the van and at quiet time, and bedtime stories.

 

I do read at other times, though. I might start the reading time with a book or two for the youngest, favourite picture books, etc. There are a lot of great picture books with big value even for older kids. Then I move up to the "older" read-aloud and if the youngers play around or come and go during the older read aloud, that's fine. I actually don't require mine to stay in the room, but that might depend on your home's level of babyproofing. I often read in the living room and my 2yo wanders from there to the playroom and hall, bringing back toys, etc.

 

The noise level... that's something I train for and since I know my 2yo is capable of deciding not to yell, I address that. I would be training the 3yo, but at 9months old, it's just rough. At that stage, I've relied more on audiobooks + bedtime and mealtime reading.

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Oh see that's weird, I would have the opposite advice of some of the others.  I would read aloud *more* not less.   :)  I can tell you that my dd16 with ADHD never "sat still" for read alouds.  I would take her outside and let her run around and play while I read aloud.  Playing and movement doesn't *hurt* their comprehension at all.  In fact for some kids it *increases* their attention.

 

There are exceptions to that. Not sure about my youngest (haven't really tried), but my oldest has zero comprehension if he's doing anything other than sitting still next to me (in the car audiobooks work too, if he's interested). I've tried several times because so many people say it works to let them play etc, but it just doesn't work for him.

 

I tend to start out with both my kids sitting on the bed next to me, one on each side. If the youngest decides the book is too hard/not interesting*, I allow him to wander off and go play in another room, so long as he's quiet enough to not disturb us.

 

*There are exceptions - for some things I make him sit and listen. So, he wandered off during the Iliad, but I made him stay for the bible (we're not religious, but it's an important part of cultural knowledge, and we're doing the Ancients this year, which includes the bible).

 

My kids (especially the youngest) are more willing to listen to books at bedtime. So, while youngest mostly wandered off during the Iliad, the few times I read some of it at bedtime he would sit and listen. Unfortunately, by the time it's bedtime, I'm often so *done* with the kids that I just need them to be in bed and quiet and need some alone time for myself.

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My kids do not remember anything about the book if they are doing anything while i read. Sometimes i let them start out drawing and listening but inevitably they end up just listening because they want me to repeat something tor their distracted benefit and i wont.

 

Ive babysat kids who internalized every word while building with legos, though. Do it's a know your own children situation.

 

But i think thats not going to be your solution. There is just so much distance between your 7 year old and your babies.

 

As hard as it is, i think youre going to have to carve out alone time with each of them. Or at least with the oldest. Personally id stick the littles in front of danny and bucket full of dinosaurs (a show), buckled into seats or in playpens and read to the 7 y/o for 45 minutes. I know thats not everyones cuppa. Then short, repetitive stories for the babies any time you can fit it in.

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I have 7 & 3, and they both color or play with something quietly on the floor while I read. I always announce that it is almost read-aloud time and they know they have a few minutes to get whatever they want to occupy themselves for the next hour or so. They take occasional breaks from what they're doing to sit with me on the couch when we read anything with lots of pictures. The 3yo is allowed to wander off but she rarely does.

 

If I had a younger that cut things short, I think I would try breaking up read-aloud time. A bit more of a pain that way, but would get it in. Like 15 minutes or so after breakfast, then a read break for a bit between subjects, then 15 after lunch. If the littles go to bed before your 7yo then you could do a bit more at bedtime.  

 

I know a lot of people like to read aloud during lunch, so that could work for you. I don't like doing that because lunch is my down time. I let the kids watch something educational like Bill Nye or MSB, and I get to have a mental break. Though you might not get that anyway with the littler ones. We have done audiobooks during lunch before, though. And audiobooks in the car. 

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I read to older dd when younger dd was taking a nap, just one chapter a day from a good book.

 

I don't count stuff for school in the same category as "reading aloud," even if it's something I'm reading out loud to dc. In fact, if I had many littles, I would choose Official School Stuff that did not require lots of focused reading aloud. I want warm fuzzy interaction, but that doesn't have to include children sitting while I'm reading. Something like KONOS, which involves much more doing than sitting. :-)

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I don't expect young children to sit during reading time. I would sit and read near my son while he played with his train tracks. Every loop around, he would pause to look at the pictures then continue on playing. He retained quite a bit this way and grew up loving story time. At 14, he still loves being read to. (He also reads a lot on his own, above grade level.) He still doesn't sit still, but often lays and pets a cat while I read to him.

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I have 7 & 3, and they both color or play with something quietly on the floor while I read. I always announce that it is almost read-aloud time and they know they have a few minutes to get whatever they want to occupy themselves for the next hour or so. They take occasional breaks from what they're doing to sit with me on the couch when we read anything with lots of pictures. The 3yo is allowed to wander off but she rarely does.

 

If I had a younger that cut things short, I think I would try breaking up read-aloud time. A bit more of a pain that way, but would get it in. Like 15 minutes or so after breakfast, then a read break for a bit between subjects, then 15 after lunch. If the littles go to bed before your 7yo then you could do a bit more at bedtime.

 

I know a lot of people like to read aloud during lunch, so that could work for you. I don't like doing that because lunch is my down time. I let the kids watch something educational like Bill Nye or MSB, and I get to have a mental break. Though you might not get that anyway with the littler ones. We have done audiobooks during lunch before, though. And audiobooks in the car.

Ooo! You have magic children! I'm not making fun. I was a magic child. One of my favorite games as a kid was to line up by 50 or so matchbox cars in a wiggly line and then play "traffic jam." I would move the first car forward an inch, then the 2nd car, then the 3rd...on down the line until I was back at the first car. My adhd husband thinks this story is hiLARious.

 

I wasn't given magic children. I was given wild horses. I used to cry because my oldest couldn't be quiet for 5 seconds until he was about 5 years old. I would try so many things to get him to be quiet for 5 seconds in a row. It never happened no matter what kind of game I made it into, or whether I spoke sternly. He just couldn't be quiet and certainly couldn't keep his little body still. He was happy and sweet, but he was like an electron shooting around. I was beyond exhausted trying to keep him alive. :).

 

I remember flylady saying to do cleaning in 15 minute increments, or even in just 5, and again my eyes teared up because I never (ever, ever) had 5 minutes in a row when The Boy wasn't shooing around the room asking for something, needing something, getting into something. It was such a shock to have a kid like that after being the kind of kid I was. (BTW: he's 13 now and an absolute joy. Very kind and gracious to younger kids and helpful and sweet to me. It just took a looooong time for that to come to fruition.)

 

OP: I think you've got a lot of good ideas: read when they're at the table; read to the oldest separatey from the youngest. I commented earlier that I let my kids wiggle while I read now that they're old enough to actually listen and not make noise overtop of me or wander away. However, someone above posted that they have kids who cannot be doing something else and also be paying attention to the story.

 

I have noticed that my youngest can't remember non-fiction if he's doing something else. So for him, he has to sit next to me and follow along with the words when we're reading something I want him to remember. For stories, he can do whatever he likes because it doesn't really matter if he remembers everything, but if we're reading for knowledge for school, then he has to be by my side reading as well. I don't think this is a problem for you now, but you'll need to remember that for in the future.

Edited by Garga
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I'm always amazed when I see people in here say they read for hours every day to their kids. I don't get it. How? Now, yeah, mine are still young but I swear it's like herding cats when I'm trying to get them in the same room to listen. My 3 year old is just into everything all the time and my 9 month old is very distracting and loud. They will all interrupt constantly even though I've corrected them ad nauseum, won't sit still, and it just gets me angry, which defeats the purpose of having a read aloud time. :( I've tried having them color or do play doh but that lasts maybe 5 minutes until they're up leaving the room or something. My 7 year old is good at listening but, poor thing, she gets so distracted by the others. I really wanted to read a lot to her this year, and we've gotten through several chapter books so I guess that's good.... But I want to have a set, fun, read aloud time, even if it's just 15 minutes.

 

I'm just frustrated. How do yall get this done?

 

9 months is too little to sit / not distract. That is unrealistic. I mean, there might be a small subset of children that can be hushed at that age and congratulations to those moms, but they don't exist in my family. I think the baby needs to be in a playpen or a bouncer during those times. If she naps, read during the nap.

 

At three, we did not sit for 15 minutes ever. I would have liked it but it never happened. Maybe ten minutes. At least, the older one. The little one is snugglier and will sit but not without interrupting. I just read over her.

 

As for the older one, when she was seven she could basically only be read to while jumping on a trampoline, doing headstands, doing backbends, or something else.

 

My suggestion is to read aloud with the kids before bed however long it lasts and call it a day, and then if you can get an indoor trampoline, while they are taking turns on a trampoline / sit-n-spin / headstand mat setup, read aloud. Let them move all they want and read.

 

Also books in the car when they are strapped down, LOL. Is the seven year old still in a 5-point harness (disclosure: mine isn't, she's in a booster). But if you can keep them down, that's a great time for books on tape.

 

I totally feel your pain.

 

(If I used food to keep my kids quiet we'd have CPS at our house concerned about child obesity... I'd just have to continually shove stuff in their mouths. In fact they usually come home with lunch boxes full from school because they don't eat, they talk. I ask if they get hungry and they say yes but they need to be first on the monkey bars. Yep, those are my kids...)

Edited by Tsuga
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Choose books that are perfect for your three year old when you are reading to all of them together. Set the baby up with something to occupy her while you are reading to the other two and don't expect her to listen. Or hold her on your lap with a quiet toy to occupy her. Keep the session short -- just five or ten minutes -- at the same time every day, so that it becomes a routine. Work on making it good for your middle child and let the others listen in.

 

At another time of the day, read the chapter books just to the oldest. And sit and read a board book or two to your baby before you put her down for her nap. That only takes a few minutes but will have a lasting impact on both bonding and the book exposure that your baby gets. I always read to my kids before their naps, and I had four kids under age four.

 

Basically, create three shorter reading times in your day to meet the needs of each of your children. It's fine if the other listen in. You can encourage that.

 

Three of my kids are close in age, but the oldest is two years older. I always had a separate reading time for her, but she listened when we read picture books to the younger ones. I also read to them over lunch. I would let them watch a show (their only screen time when they were little) while I prepared the food and ate my own. Then I would read while they ate.

 

DH would also read to them before bed. Again, the book choice would be suitable for the younger children, but the oldest would stay up a bit longer and hear a chapter book of her own.

 

Yes, we had many interruptions. Yes, it was hard to get them to keep still (we have ADHD going on here). But it was important enough to me to keep working on it. It was often frustrating to me as the parent, but it was worth it to do it for them, and it became a good family bonding time. We still read together as a family (though not as often, because my kids are in school and have homework at night).

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All dd wanted was for Mommy to read to her but her little brother didn't cooperate at all most of the time.

 

One trick that worked for me was all the toys that required somewhat concentrated play got packaged up in clear shoebox containers. Doled out for reading times, when I stopped reading the toy was put away. Toy wasn't seen again for at least a week. Sometimes it stayed out longer if dd wanted to play with it too but favourite toys were generally reading time only. Ds knew they limited time offers and became good at being quiet for dd's stories.

 

He did grow into sitting on my other side. I am one of the marathon readers, roughly 4 hours a day for several years. We also read in the big bed frequently. The kids loved crawling in bed for part of the school day when they got a bit bigger.

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I would definitely look for ways to read to the 7 year old alone at least part of the time.   That's a pretty big age gap -- Even with just two years and nine months between my DD and my oldest DS, I have pretty much always had a separate read aloud for her vs. the boys.  (Difference in interests is part of it as well -- very different books appeal to her).  But with a 4 year (or almost 4 year?) age gap, if you think ahead to the future, in a couple years your oldest will be ready for middle grade read alouds with more intense topics, while you still have younger kids who clearly wouldn't be. 

 

With my boys, DS9 and DS7 have interest in some chapter books that DS4 isn't interested in, but DS4 really just wanders away to play and I don't require him to listen.  I try and encourage him to play "out of sight" of the where I am reading (Usually I'm in the living room, he goes to another room just around the corner), and then the older boys are less likely to get distracted.

 

I read aloud to my DD at bedtime most nights while my DH reads to the boys, and this is how I do read aloud time with her most of the time.  Obviously she is old enough now that we wouldn't NEED to read aloud, but she likes it and it is a relationship building time for us to read together.  When DH isn't available, I just read to the boys first, then read to her (she stays up later anyway). 

 

When the kids were younger and I had nursing and napping babies, I often read while I was nursing the baby or while younger ones were napping. 

 

Reading during meals doesn't work for me either (either because I am eating or it is a much needed break to uh...post on forums or facebook).  ;-)  We also haven't had much success with kids playing with toys while I am reading, because they can't play blocks, legos, playdoh, etc without talking extensively.  Sometimes they color or draw while I read, but that is the exception for us rather than the rule. 

 

We also use audio books.  If there is something my DS9 in particular really wants to hear that DD isn't interested in and it is too intense for his younger brothers, he can listen as audiobook with headphones.  We also do audiobooks in the car quite a bit when I can find titles that are both interesting and appropriate for everyone.  (When youngest DS was younger, I kind of assumed he wasn't listening and we listened to some kind of intense things like Harry Potter.  He may have actually be listening because I am surprised how non-scared he is by things that my older kids totally would have been scared of at the same age.  But I am not sure if works out that way with all kids!).

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I read to each child separately before bedtime while they were tucked in bed. Mine are 2 years apart, but had different interests. Each child was welcome to listen in on the sibling's read aloud, which they sometimes did and sometimes didn't.

We listened to a lot of audiobooks while driving (=captive audience).

 

You could also read while they draw or color. If your little ones don't have the attention span, then maybe the book choice is not the right level to captivate them. I imagine it to be difficult to find selections that are equally appealing to a 7 y/o and a 3 y/o. I'd split them up and read separately.

I would not expect a 9 mo old to have any interest in listening to you read a story; at that age, a short board book with baby on my lap would be all, maybe a few times a day.

Edited by regentrude
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When the kids are young we read at bedtime. Sometimes one of them would walk around the room while I read.  I was ok with that once I realized they were listening.  The older they became they just lay in bed.  As they moved toward middle school we did read alouds in the living room before bed.  I loved those times.  

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Ooo! You have magic children! I'm not making fun. I was a magic child. One of my favorite games as a kid was to line up by 50 or so matchbox cars in a wiggly line and then play "traffic jam." I would move the first car forward an inch, then the 2nd car, then the 3rd...on down the line until I was back at the first car. My adhd husband thinks this story is hiLARious.

 

I wasn't given magic children. I was given wild horses. I used to cry because my oldest couldn't be quiet for 5 seconds until he was about 5 years old. I would try so many things to get him to be quiet for 5 seconds in a row. It never happened no matter what kind of game I made it into, or whether I spoke sternly. He just couldn't be quiet and certainly couldn't keep his little body still. He was happy and sweet, but he was like an electron shooting around. I was beyond exhausted trying to keep him alive. :).

 

I remember flylady saying to do cleaning in 15 minute increments, or even in just 5, and again my eyes teared up because I never (ever, ever) had 5 minutes in a row when The Boy wasn't shooing around the room asking for something, needing something, getting into something. It was such a shock to have a kid like that after being the kind of kid I was. (BTW: he's 13 now and an absolute joy. Very kind and gracious to younger kids and helpful and sweet to me. It just took a looooong time for that to come to fruition.)

...

What's funny is this is the ONLY time they are so cooperative like this. Mine are usually wild horses as well! My 7yo has SPD and does NOT sit still and doesn't do quiet. Teaching this child math is a lesson in patience because half the time I'm looking at her rear not her face. But they both love read-alouds so much that they do cooperate. It took a bit of time, at first I would just stop reading if they started talking or playing loudly. They'd notice I stopped and be quiet again. So now they know if they want me to keep reading, they have to stay quiet and close (they are allowed to ask questions or comment on the book, I mean no chatting to each other or talking over me about something unrelated). And it's not perfect, we do have interruptions every day and I have to remind them or stop reading til they notice. Or they get bored of what they picked and I have to stop for a minute as they go get a new coloring book or a bin of soft blocks.

 

We also worked up to an hour. I started with just 15 minutes and worked up to 30. A bout of sickness a couple of months ago is actually what got us up to an hour. They both felt so crummy we didn't do much for school except reading, so we did more of it than usual. They got used to an hour over those two weeks and when they were better and I stopped reading about a half an hour in, they asked me to keep going.  It also helps that I switch what we're reading a lot. It's not an hour from one chapter book. A typical day is: a ch. or two from our current read aloud, a ch. from Life of Fred, a fairy tale or poem, a history section, a ch from the history read aloud, a picture book, and a science selection.

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I don't. Enforced sitting for long periods of time for my DS7 means he's focusing more on trying to remember to be seated and still than listening to what is being read. He doesn't spend *all* of his time bouncing around, but we've done many history lessons and read-alouds with him coloring, standing on his head, quietly playing Lego, etc. 

 

I tend to schedule things where I'm reading to him around times we naturally are sitting, such as wake up cuddles, meals and pre-nap/bedtime or bring them out when he is in a particularly quiet mood. I can't imagine trying to get him, a toddler with a similar temperament, and an infant to all be still together and would probably schedule those reading intensive subjects around the baby's nap.

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Nearly all my kids 'do stuff' while I read aloud - even the older ones. They cross-stitch, knit, do puzzles, play solitaire card games, draw, play with toys, etc. Sometimes the little ones get a bit loud and I have to shush them. My oldest is doing BA in Ministry and she has been listening to a lot of online lectures. She told me the other day that she found she would drift off while listening but then discovered if she was knitting at the same time she would concentrate much better - she's 21 ;) .

 

I agree also with using mealtimes, and I also think OhElizabeth's advice is great about training to sit, but not necessarily use read aloud time as the training ground.

 

Keep at it :)

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Let me add a little perspective, too ....

It's a season of life.  In 12 months (or 1 year, whichever sounds better to you), you'll have an 8 yr old, 4 year old, and a nearly 2 year old.  While you'll still be pulling your hair out over the youngest one, at least the older two will probably be much more interested in read-alouds.  hugs.

 

 

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I completely understand and relate to you, and I don't have many words of wisdom. But here's an oddball idea...

 

Have you tried reading while they are in the bathtub? Wash them up first and then while they are playing with the bath toys, read to them?

I do this all the time. If I say it's time for history, DS starts running water for a bath. 😆 He's old enough to wash himself, though.

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I wouldn't read chapter books to all those kids. I'd read a chapter to your eldest, and then intersperse picture books throughout the day... and honestly (though you're not gonna like this) I'd consider having a separate picture book time for the baby. At any rate, I certainly wouldn't expect the baby to "sit through" storytime.

 

Five minutes is enough time to read a short picture book, nothing too wordy. Four of those periods a day - say once each at breakfast and lunch, and once before bedtime and naptime - and voila! you've read to your younger two for 20 minutes. Then you can read to your eldest while the other two nap.

 

I used to read to the kids an awful lot on the bus/boat/train when we went out and about. Strangers comment on their reading habits now, and I can never think of a polite way to say "They read on the train because I bring them books".

Edited by Tanaqui
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Food.

Bedtime, when the other parent is around and can either read or watch the little ones.

 

I totally get you.  My youngest three are seven, four, and two.  They'll sit for picture books, but the littlest one gets squirmy with chapter books.  So we send him to Daddy if he's not pacified by a toy or a big sibling's lap (sometimes he likes my lap, but he tends to wiggle and bump and get in the way of what I'm reading).  

 

We have to stop a lot sometimes.  It happens.  It won't always be this way.

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9 months is too little to sit / not distract. That is unrealistic. I mean, there might be a small subset of children that can be hushed at that age and congratulations to those moms, but they don't exist in my family. I think the baby needs to be in a playpen or a bouncer during those times. If she naps, read during the nap.

 

At three, we did not sit for 15 minutes ever. I would have liked it but it never happened. Maybe ten minutes. At least, the older one. The little one is snugglier and will sit but not without interrupting. I just read over her.

 

As for the older one, when she was seven she could basically only be read to while jumping on a trampoline, doing headstands, doing backbends, or something else.

 

My suggestion is to read aloud with the kids before bed however long it lasts and call it a day, and then if you can get an indoor trampoline, while they are taking turns on a trampoline / sit-n-spin / headstand mat setup, read aloud. Let them move all they want and read.

 

Also books in the car when they are strapped down, LOL. Is the seven year old still in a 5-point harness (disclosure: mine isn't, she's in a booster). But if you can keep them down, that's a great time for books on tape.

 

I totally feel your pain.

 

(If I used food to keep my kids quiet we'd have CPS at our house concerned about child obesity... I'd just have to continually shove stuff in their mouths. In fact they usually come home with lunch boxes full from school because they don't eat, they talk. I ask if they get hungry and they say yes but they need to be first on the monkey bars. Yep, those are my kids...)

That last part made me LOL. And yes, I've tried many times to read during lunch but that same thingoes happens. By the time I get their food sorted out, someone is already done eating and off again, or they just pick at their food.

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Let me add a little perspective, too ....

It's a season of life. In 12 months (or 1 year, whichever sounds better to you), you'll have an 8 yr old, 4 year old, and a nearly 2 year old. While you'll still be pulling your hair out over the youngest one, at least the older two will probably be much more interested in read-alouds. hugs.

I'll have an 8, 6, 4, and 2 year old! Lol. Yes I know it will get easier as they get older but it's just getting to that point that's hard and trying to be intentional with my oldest!

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Wow, I just wanted to say thank you so much to everyone who commented on my post. I really appreciate all the advice. I guess I should have added that I also have 4 kids total, with a 5 year old in there, too. Right now I do try to have an audio book going when we are in the car, and I try to carve out time with my oldest during the afternoon when my 3 year old is taking a nap, but the baby isn't always napping at the same time, so it makes it hard. And yes, I do try to read to the two bigger ones at bedtime. My three year old loves books, and that nap time we'll sit and listen to me read to him for a long time, so that's good. He's my first st that age to do that.

 

My 7 year old has never really been interested in books at all, ever, so while she's getting better at listening and I try to read fun books to pique her interest, she doesn't like to just listen to an audio book at nap time or anything and she fights listening a lot. She also isn't rainy her own books yet, either, so I feel like I have to read everything. It's just exhausting.

 

But thanks guys, definitely going to be putting some of this advice to use!

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When I had very young ones, it was reading picture books, keeping it short, and changing up location.  Snack or lunch was great, waiting until naptime usually worked, and if all else failed I just read to whoever was interested.  The best place for us was outside when the weather was nice.  Our only consistent time was bedtime and then DH and I divided and conquered.  He read chapter books to the ones interested, and I read picture books to the others.  We tucked ourselves into bed, got warm and cozy, and if I was lucky the little ones would drift off while reading.  It seemed like this was the only time they slowed down.  ;)

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I didn't do long read alouds for 3 year olds and 9 month olds.  We did lots of short picture books throughout the day with kids that age.

We started our chapter read alouds when they were 4 with the Chronicles of Narnia and a Bible story book.

We don't make them sit for read alouds.  We've allowed quiet play with cars, construction toys, dolls, crafts, and tumbling on a gym mat, bouncing on an exercise ball and on a mini trampoline.

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Thanks again for the advice. Also wanted to say I don't really expect my 3 yr old and baby to sit still quietly, but the problem is that I can't read to my older girls when they are awake. My younger boys aren't napping at the same time, either, so it just makes it hard to get a few minutes with just my bigger girls just to do school, much less read aloud. I guess bedtime is going to have to do for now, that's when we usually read. But by that time I'm so exhausted I just want to sleep, too lol.

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Divide and conquer. Mine have a big age gap and my husband did an hour read aloud in the evenings until they started college, so for a while there was an older kids read aloud while mom had the younger kid and then a younger kid read aloud with dad that wasn't an hour long yet while the older two did whatever. 

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Thanks again for the advice. Also wanted to say I don't really expect my 3 yr old and baby to sit still quietly, but the problem is that I can't read to my older girls when they are awake. My younger boys aren't napping at the same time, either, so it just makes it hard to get a few minutes with just my bigger girls just to do school, much less read aloud. I guess bedtime is going to have to do for now, that's when we usually read. But by that time I'm so exhausted I just want to sleep, too lol.

Could you have something for the 3 and 1yo to do while you do reading? Edible play doh is fun at the 1yos age. Or even a show. I am amazed how effective the Leapfrog Letter Factory movie is! I'd try finding an activity that might give you some time, even if not a lot. But, I think that even your older ones could benefit from excellent picture books.

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Lol. Just a few minutes ago I read a thread where folks talked about several hours of read aloud time each day and I laughed thinking many of the same thoughts you voiced. My oldest is six and I have three younger kids. I'm lucky if I have time to eat at mealtimes, let alone read to them! :) we sit audio books in the car, sorry story time with picture and board books in the morning (sometimes... :) the older kids still like the baby books) and a little reading before bed while the youngest two are managed by they patent who's not reading so that they're not TOO loud. It's not nearly much as I'd like, but it's all I can reasonably manage right now. And they all enjoy the little time we do have (mostly... )

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