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lewelma

s/o Gil's post -- I'd like to discuss the parent-child dynamic in homeschooling

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My daughter just came home, and I asked her who decides what we do in our homeschool. She said "Well, on the one hand, you might say that I do, since I decide what the things are, but on the other hand, you decide where they go on the schedule. So it's equal." I asked; "So I decide when to do it and how long to do it for?" and she agreed with that statement. 

From the mouths of babes... ;-). 

Edited by square_25
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So Gil is going to have some reading to do! haha. Would love his thoughts on my specific situation. 

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2 minutes ago, lewelma said:

please don't delete

Ah I already did but you saved my exceptionally wise words to humanity by quoting them 😆
 

 

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3 minutes ago, Ausmumof3 said:

Ah I already did but you saved my exceptionally wise words to humanity by quoting them 😆
 

I think you are spot on about suggesting he track what he does on the screens. Because a couple of times I have gone into his room he has been sitting in his loungy chair with his computer on his lap, and when I asked what he was doing (said in a nice way), he was listening to classical music and thinking. So not all computer use is bad!

But you see, screens are not exactly the problem. It is the reading that is what I need to fix.  The screens are just an escape from something he thinks he is failing at. 

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Re: a teenage child and possible OCD issues, have you discussed OCD with him? I think it can be very helpful for kids to have a label for these kinds of things, and a chance to learn about them. If he is wanting to tackle the issue, are you giving him resources? Books about OCD and techniques for managing it maybe. If he is experiencing OCD symptoms I am not sure it matters very much whether it reaches a serious clinical level--techniques to help cope with obsessions/compulsions should be useful either way.

I'm concerned that a kid wanting to tackle it on their own would see it as, say, a matter of willpower, and would be lacking in useful tools.

Lots of OCD in my family.

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Is it possible that he needs glasses?  Just throwing that out there.   I had no idea that dd(now11) needed glasses until I took her in for a checkup when she was about 6.  The doctor told me that she could only read the E at the top of the chart.  We had no idea that she couldn't see well.

ETA:  What made me think of this is that the easier books usually have larger font and are easier to see as well as easier to read.

Edited by Junie
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This thread has been very interesting.  I am currently having issues with dd11 saying that I give her too much math.  She balks at other work, sometimes, but math is the worst.  She told me yesterday that 5 problems was too much and she absolutely refused to do them.

I think that I need to brainstorm -- with her -- to come up with a solution that will be acceptable to both of us.  I have taken away privileges and that seems to help some -- she will eventually do the work -- but it sometimes takes her a couple of days to decide that she has had enough.

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1 minute ago, Junie said:

This thread has been very interesting.  I am currently having issues with dd11 saying that I give her too much math.  She balks at other work, sometimes, but math is the worst.  She told me yesterday that 5 problems was too much and she absolutely refused to do them.

I think that I need to brainstorm -- with her -- to come up with a solution that will be acceptable to both of us.  I have taken away privileges and that seems to help some -- she will eventually do the work -- but it sometimes takes her a couple of days to decide that she has had enough.

My solution to that has so far been to find something interesting that still keeps us moving forward :-).

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51 minutes ago, square_25 said:

My solution to that has so far been to find something interesting that still keeps us moving forward :-).

Can you give me an example?  Do you change curricula?

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14 minutes ago, Junie said:

Can you give me an example?  Do you change curricula?

 

It probably helps that I don't use a curriculum, lol! If I'd been using one, I'd have probably tried switching. You're using Saxon, right? Do your kids generally like math with it? 

Edited by square_25

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3 minutes ago, square_25 said:

It probably helps that I don't use a curriculum, lol! If I'd been using one, I'd probably try switching. You're using Saxon, right? Do your kids generally like math with it? 

My kids generally don't like math at all.  We have used the same sequence with all of the kids -- Abeka through grade 3 and then switch to Saxon.  Dh's one "requirement" when we decided to homeschool was that he wanted to use Saxon math.  He would probably be ok with switching to something else for dd11, but I really doubt that it would help.  She has been a grumpy goose for several years now about anything that isn't her idea.

She seems to get overwhelmed by looking at a whole page of problems.  This is something that we are working on, but we haven't found a good solution yet.  She often flat-out refuses to write down the lesson number at the top of the page and then write down the first question.  I've told her that I can't help her if I don't know what she needs help with.  I've asked her if she needs help to write out L-e-s-s-o-n.  Of course not, but she will still refuse to write it.

One day she looked at her spelling list and yelled at me that the words were too hard.  I offered to help her study the words and she refused.  Fifteen minutes later she told me she was ready for the test and she scored a 100.

She is the fifth child I have taken through this book.  I know she can do it.  She just doesn't want to.  It's that internal motivation that was spoken about upthread.  We just haven't figured it out yet.

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1 minute ago, Junie said:

My kids generally don't like math at all.  We have used the same sequence with all of the kids -- Abeka through grade 3 and then switch to Saxon.  Dh's one "requirement" when we decided to homeschool was that he wanted to use Saxon math.  He would probably be ok with switching to something else for dd11, but I really doubt that it would help.  She has been a grumpy goose for several years now about anything that isn't her idea.

She seems to get overwhelmed by looking at a whole page of problems.  This is something that we are working on, but we haven't found a good solution yet.  She often flat-out refuses to write down the lesson number at the top of the page and then write down the first question.  I've told her that I can't help her if I don't know what she needs help with.  I've asked her if she needs help to write out L-e-s-s-o-n.  Of course not, but she will still refuse to write it.

One day she looked at her spelling list and yelled at me that the words were too hard.  I offered to help her study the words and she refused.  Fifteen minutes later she told me she was ready for the test and she scored a 100.

She is the fifth child I have taken through this book.  I know she can do it.  She just doesn't want to.  It's that internal motivation that was spoken about upthread.  We just haven't figured it out yet.

 

Hmmm. Personally, I would have not stuck with a sequence that resulted in my kids not liking math, but then I'm a mathematician and it was important to me that my kids like math as much as possible. 

To me, it sounds like she would benefit from having more choices about what she does in her schoolwork. I don't know if math is the right place to implement that or not: that really depends on how comfortable you'd be with checking that there are no gaps when switching around. But generally, I do prefer a reasonable level of intrinsic motivation when we're working on something. 

 

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31 minutes ago, square_25 said:

 

Hmmm. Personally, I would have not stuck with a sequence that resulted in my kids not liking math, but then I'm a mathematician and it was important to me that my kids like math as much as possible. 

To me, it sounds like she would benefit from having more choices about what she does in her schoolwork. I don't know if math is the right place to implement that or not: that really depends on how comfortable you'd be with checking that there are no gaps when switching around. But generally, I do prefer a reasonable level of intrinsic motivation when we're working on something. 

 

Well, their not liking math probably has more to do with the fact that I am not mathy, not necessarily a problem with curriculum.  Dh is an engineer; I taught high school English.

As for choices in schoolwork, we are mostly interest-led until we get to high school.  And maybe that is the main issue -- math is one of the only subjects that is not relaxed/interest-led.  

Edited by Junie

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1 hour ago, Junie said:

My kids generally don't like math at all.  We have used the same sequence with all of the kids -- Abeka through grade 3 and then switch to Saxon.  Dh's one "requirement" when we decided to homeschool was that he wanted to use Saxon math.  He would probably be ok with switching to something else for dd11, but I really doubt that it would help.  She has been a grumpy goose for several years now about anything that isn't her idea.

She seems to get overwhelmed by looking at a whole page of problems.  This is something that we are working on, but we haven't found a good solution yet.  She often flat-out refuses to write down the lesson number at the top of the page and then write down the first question.  I've told her that I can't help her if I don't know what she needs help with.  I've asked her if she needs help to write out L-e-s-s-o-n.  Of course not, but she will still refuse to write it.

One day she looked at her spelling list and yelled at me that the words were too hard.  I offered to help her study the words and she refused.  Fifteen minutes later she told me she was ready for the test and she scored a 100.

She is the fifth child I have taken through this book.  I know she can do it.  She just doesn't want to.  It's that internal motivation that was spoken about upthread.  We just haven't figured it out yet.

Well, this is exactly what this thread is about. My parent-child relationship is different than yours. I would have quit math for 1-3 months, and then started on a single big problem.  I want to build a shed, lets figure out how many materials we have to buy. etc.  There is no way I would ever have forced my younger to do math that he didn't want to do. (I didn't have this trouble with my older haha.)   In my experience (and clearly different people have different experiences), my kids learn NOTHING if they are not engaged.  They can pass the test, but nothing is retained, and the content cannot be used applied to other contexts. 

I had so much trouble with my younger with math, that we did 5 different pre-Algebra programs over 2 years while I waited for him to mature.  We just picked something every day that he *wanted* to do. This kept him excited about math and with a perception that he was good at it. Was it a pain in the neck? Sure. Was it the most efficient path? No way. But did it keep him wanting more math everyday? Definitely, yes. For me, attitude and engagement is everything. 

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So back to my problem with reading and screens with my younger. I started this thread because I was considering a top-down reduce-the-screens approach with the hope that this would encourage ds to read more and thus overcome his difficulties.  But now I'm thinking 1) get his vision tested (great idea, it has been 2 years), 2) discuss OCD and his reading (I have been clinical twice in my life, so I know a thing or two), 3) discuss the impact of screens on his reading and suggest that we both work to improve our reading by reading together for 7 weeks during the summer holidays and by both limiting our screens (maybe comparing tracking numbers - like the tracking idea!).

I have decided that top-down is not going to work not only because it is not my style, but also because the screens are related to the reading which is related to mental issues (won't say illness yet). The whole thing is bound up in one fat mess, and I think the best way forward is to continue to get him to make his own decisions so that he will own them and want to implement them without me standing over his shoulder.  Slow and steady wins the race. I always focus on the positive, and my younger has made remarkable progress on his dysgraphia over 4 years and I firmly believe with some encouragement he will progress on this issue as well. 

Edited by lewelma
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I think screens are a different issue, because they suck you in and it's very difficult for teens to self regulate even if they wanted to. 

What I tend to do is give my daughter the information on why I'm concerned - when you do x you get distracted, y gets left undone which is a problem because of z. I might even suggest she read a book on the subject of teen brains vs screens 😉 

That would lead in to a discussion of how some habits are just too much to undo with only willpower. You need scaffolding. What scaffolding would help him? How can you support that scaffolding - which is totally technically different than helping him solve the problem 😁

My child has a particular issue with this, when her tablet is in front of her she forgets the rest of the world and nothing gets done. We are more punitive than you, so I simply let her know that since she's unable to regulate it herself she will take a break and I'll remove the temptation (ie, I'll ban her from it!) She does get pretty cranky with me. Ask me in a few years (she's 14 now) how it worked 😄

 

Edited by LMD
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definitely you need to parse out his day....how much entertainment time is there, has it increased or decreased. What is the entertainment and what is he getting out of it?  Is he getting two hours a day of sweat inducing exercise?  How much downtime is there, and what is it doing for his body as well as his mind? Its hard for the mind to focus when the body needs to move; I notice with video gamers that the action on screen kind of makes them forget what their body is asking for. 

My older read less for enjoyment in high school, simply because he needed more exercise and he didn't have the time due to his English coursework.  He became angry at his English teachers for assigning pap, but really, the issue was that I could not get him into AP English in 9th; I was able to discuss his readings with him, but he needed more tools to keep his level of enjoyment up. Switching to nonfic was helpful, but more helpful was public speaking, drama and music...he could get complexity and move his communications knowledge forward until the curriculum caught up with his personal needs. He rejected some screens also...too much pap at this level or he didn't have the background to enjoy an adaptation of say, Shakespeare but youtube was big for instructional videos.

So yep, time for reflection...what's he getting out of his screen choices, what can't he get out of his books, where is his mind when. 

Edited by HeighHo
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13 hours ago, LMD said:

I think screens are a different issue, because they suck you in and it's very difficult for teens to self regulate even if they wanted to. 

What I tend to do is give my daughter the information on why I'm concerned - when you do x you get distracted, y gets left undone which is a problem because of z. I might even suggest she read a book on the subject of teen brains vs screens 😉 

That would lead in to a discussion of how some habits are just too much to undo with only willpower. You need scaffolding. What scaffolding would help him? How can you support that scaffolding - which is totally technically different than helping him solve the problem 😁

My child has a particular issue with this, when her tablet is in front of her she forgets the rest of the world and nothing gets done. We are more punitive than you, so I simply let her know that since she's unable to regulate it herself she will take a break and I'll remove the temptation (ie, I'll ban her from it!) She does get pretty cranky with me. Ask me in a few years (she's 14 now) how it worked 😄

 

 

My son gets cranky when I take screens away. But he also has those moments where he comes to me and thanks me for not allowing him to have a smartphone so I know he sees the issues even if he isn't always happy to have someone else helping him make better decisions.

 

(I do tend to "assign" laps around the block as well. Because I'm pretty sure part of it is needing more activity than our lifestyle normally gives.)

 

Edited by vonfirmath
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13 hours ago, LMD said:

I think screens are a different issue, because they suck you in and it's very difficult for teens to self regulate even if they wanted to. 

What I tend to do is give my daughter the information on why I'm concerned - when you do x you get distracted, y gets left undone which is a problem because of z. I might even suggest she read a book on the subject of teen brains vs screens 😉 

That would lead in to a discussion of how some habits are just too much to undo with only willpower. You need scaffolding. What scaffolding would help him? How can you support that scaffolding - which is totally technically different than helping him solve the problem 😁

 

Thank you for this. These ideas are exactly what I am looking for.  I really like the term scaffolding, I haven't used that with the screens yet; but he knows it well from all the scaffolding I have done with his writing, so it is a word that has positive connotations for him. Sometimes a carefully chosen word can clarify what you mean and lead to quicker consensus. Thanks for the book recommendation.

Luckily he is very aware of screens as a potential problem, so will not use them during his schoolwork unless he is specifically typing up a paper.  He knows that he is just a click away from something more fun.  So he is self-regulating very well when he is working. *Very* well.

During his free time, he used to read, and he is very aware that he is not reading as much as he would like. He has told me not to write up his completed book list for the year until the end of summer as he wants to up the numbers. 🙂 We have had *very* good success with building routines that support our goals in this house, so I think that I might work with him to develop and tweak a routine for this summer that includes more reading and less screen time.  He has already asked that we continue to school year round, and do 1-2 hour each day so he doesn't get bored.  He also told me in the car yesterday that he has found that once you get over a certain amount of video games, they get boring.  So he is starting to think on these issues and internalize some goals that require self-regulation.  He is definitely on a good path toward managing screen use during free time, I just need to nudge him along. 

So to scaffold his desire to self regulate I'm thinking of 1) reading together in the same room, 2) creating a routine for the summer, 3) both of us tracking app usage so we can compare, 4) embracing other hobbies and putting them into the routine, 5) keep screens locked off starting at 9pm, 6) discuss the impact of OCD-type thinking.  I will definitely use the word 'scaffold' as it is so positive. He needs to own the plan, so we will have some long talks where we both listen to different points of view as we search for consensus.  I'm slowly getting a plan. 

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7 hours ago, HeighHo said:

Is he getting two hours a day of sweat inducing exercise?  How much downtime is there, and what is it doing for his body as well as his mind? Its hard for the mind to focus when the body needs to move; I notice with video gamers that the action on screen kind of makes them forget what their body is asking for. 

Great post! Now I need to edit my plan. haha. 

First of all, he does get a ton of exercise during school terms (just look at my siggy!), not just all the sports but also *getting* to them by walking or push scooter. But I definitely need to discuss this with him for the summer. He has already told me that he will go to the gym more, which is a 30 minute walk each way, and he will be motivated to do it because he can meet his dad in the city to work out or for lunch. But you are absolutely right, he will need more. He is such a social creature that he will need to find friends all summer long and he should meet them at the pool. I will get on that.

Quote

 definitely you need to parse out his day....how much entertainment time is there, has it increased or decreased. What is the entertainment and what is he getting out of it?

This is an excellent question. I know it has increased over the years. Once I started tutoring, he became unsupervised from 3:45 to dinner. He has activities during those hours on Monday, Thursday, and Friday, so we had agreed that Tuesday and Wednesday he could be on screens if he wanted, but NO video games.  He only plays video games on Friday night and Saturday morning with his brother in the USA.  But I am seeing it slipping into Sundays, which I need to nip in the bud. My dh reads to my ds after dinner until about 730 and the computers are not locked down until 9pm.  So my guess is that he is averaging 2-3 hours per day on weekdays and much more on weekends.  We definitely need to track usage to get some clear data that he can work with. I will track too so he doesn't feel it is punitive, and so that he and I can compare and contrast and ask exactly what you said: what is are each of us getting out of it?  This is an excellent question.  I know, for example, that video games are played with his brother who is so far from home, so he is getting connection.  I also know that many times I go in his room and find him with a computer on his lap, that he is just listening to classical music with headphones on. 

public speaking, drama and music..

Yes!  This is very important for my son. He has been in drama and music for years. But I like the idea of the Shakespeare adaptations. We did that years ago, but I think he would like them more now. Great idea.

Quote

So yep, time for reflection...what's he getting out of his screen choices, what can't he get out of his books, where is his mind when.

This is the perfect time to do it as we are heading into summer break.  He is already starting to plan out his weeks and days so that he is not bored. 

Thanks for the ideas. 

Edited by lewelma
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I think the description obsessions or compulsions as a "glitch" where there brain gets stuck in a sort of loop can be helpful.

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So screens are not the only problem, the reading definitely is. It is the slide in reading that has caused him to revert to screens. I have suggested that he read easy books but then listen to harder books.  He did that with Pride and Prejudice and LOVED it.  But I have not been able to get him to listen to another one this whole year.  He says he feels it is cheating.  He believes that if he can't read the books he shouldn't listen to them.  Suggestions for how to attack that reasoning? I have tried a few things but would love to hear your thoughts. 

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2 minutes ago, lewelma said:

So screens are not the only problem, the reading definitely is. It is the slide in reading that has caused him to revert to screens. I have suggested that he read easy books but then listen to harder books.  He did that with Pride and Prejudice and LOVED it.  But I have not been able to get him to listen to another one this whole year.  He says he feels it is cheating.  He believes that if he can't read the books he shouldn't listen to them.  Suggestions for how to attack that reasoning? I have tried a few things but would love to hear your thoughts. 

Tell him when I was a working on a Master's degree in English I listened to most of my literature reading?

One of my children is dyslexic and did all her reading as audiobooks for years. She tested extremely high for reading comprehension from all that listening.

I listen to audiobooks probably at least twenty hours a week; I'm always listening when cleaning, cooking, or doing laundry, and I listen in bed at night until I fall asleep. I listen sometimes in the car or on walks.

It sounds like maybe some anxiety and rigid thinking going on there, not surprising to find together with OCD-type tendencies.

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1 minute ago, maize said:

Tell him when I was a working on a Master's degree in English I listened to most of my literature reading?

One of my children is dyslexic and did all her reading as audiobooks for years. She tested extremely high for reading comprehension from all that listening.

I listen to audiobooks probably at least twenty hours a week; I'm always listening when cleaning, cooking, or doing laundry, and I listen in bed at night until I fall asleep. I listen sometimes in the car or on walks.

It sounds like maybe some anxiety and rigid thinking going on there, not surprising to find together with OCD-type tendencies.

Thanks for those ideas. I have considered making the audio books part of his school work because then they would get done. But he is currently only willing to work 5 hours a day for 4 days, and if I put the audio books in, then something else has to be taken out. So I'm going to have to convince him to extend his school day, because if he owns it, he will do it. But if it is top down, he won't.  Clearly, this is part of why I started this thread -- this child won't be dictated to.

With my older boy, I listened to the books also and then we discussed them.  But recently I have been so busy tutoring, that I just don't have the energy to do this. Perhaps I can turn it around over summer while I have time. 

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He's got to drill down and figure out what is bothering him with the reading.  For my dc, it was that he needed the content of AP English, ie the literary devices, to move on in book complexity.  Didn't matter if he read the book or listened to the book, he needed the lit concepts. He already had the history from middle school.

I would not buy the "I'm picking a screen because its too much effort to read for pleasure "...he's getting more out of the screen time (connection to sib, etc) than he is out of book time (connection to author's ideas,etc)".  And secondly, ime students who are hardcore videogaming pick up books so they understand the video game references...King Arthur, anything WWII, Pangea, chemistry, prob&stats, coding..... 

As far as listening instead of reading...that's done when the act of reading is so difficult that it impairs the visualization and story flow. If it doesn't benefit him to listen, there is no point. As part of reflection, parsing must be done. What does he find difficult, precisely?

If wanting to work on auditory comprehension, I'd recommend speeches.

Edited by HeighHo
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1 minute ago, HeighHo said:

He's got to drill down and figure out what is bothering him with the reading.  For my dc, it was that he needed the content of AP English, ie the literary devices, to move on in book complexity.  Didn't matter if he read the book or listened to the book, he needed the lit concepts.

I would not buy the "I'm picking a screen because its too much effort to read for pleasure "...he's getting more out of the screen time (connection to sib, etc) than he is out of book time (connection to author's ideas,etc)".  And secondly, ime students who are hardcore videogaming pick up books so they understand the video game references...King Arthur, anything WWII, Pangea, chemistry, prob&stats, coding..... 

As far as listening instead of reading...that's done when the act of reading is so difficult that it impairs the visualization and story flow. If it doesn't benefit him to listen, there is no point. As part of reflection, parsing must be done. What does he find difficult, precisely?

First, let me state that he is not a hardcore gamer. If there is anything that has ever been top down, it has been restricting gaming. He plays 2 times a week for 3-4 hours each time, typically with his brother but not always. No other gaming is allowed, and he knows it and owns it. The other use of screens I am less clear about. I thought he was watching TV or movies, but just recently he told me that his older brother was sending him specific you-tube to watch. And then he tells me he has been researching volcanoes, and he has recently re-watched all the crash-course history videos, and last time I checked in it was classical music.  So definitely need to identify what is happening before I get too far into my talks. 

As for the reading, very good point about the parsing. He has told me that he wants to solve it on his own, but I think that is just not happening. He used to be an excellent reader, working his way up the classics. Enjoying books like Lord of the Flies, Ivanhoe, Lord of the Rings. But then the glitching starting happening where he would read and reread sentences, worried he was missing something, and this caused him to drop to easier and easier books in an effort to reduce the load so that the rereading would stop. Then he started reading out loud to himself, which has definitely helped. Now, I just need to build back up the habit and slowly every so slowing increase the complexity of the books again as right now he is mostly reading fantasy. I don't care about literature for a high-school English course, as he is doing all his deep reading, researching, and writing for Geography. And in NZ, reading/writing intensive courses are required in high school, but they don't have to be English and literary analysis. 

But I will say that this boy is gifted in the language arts, and has deep insightful thoughts on complex content. And even reading fantasy, and rereading the same fantasy, he has picked up a rich vocabulary that he uses in his speech and writing.  He also is strong in metaphorical language and complexity in plot.  So the problem is NOT the content of the books.  Part of the problem is that ds does not like depressing books. He really wants uplifting books or humorous books, but we have kind of run through all those. Most quality literature deals with the more negative aspects of the human experience. And he is really not interested. 

I think at this point the trouble is changed habits, caused by the reading glitch. Now that he feels the glitch is getting better, I need to get him back reading for pleasure as this boy has always been 'my big reader', something that was in my siggy for years. 

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22 minutes ago, HeighHo said:

he's getting more out of the screen time (connection to sib, etc) than he is out of book time (connection to author's ideas,etc)". 

This is key. I think I have been going after the wrong books to up his level. Classics, modern literary fiction, etc. Instead, I need to find out what ideas he wants to explore and find books that attack many angles of the problem. Something like 'My sister's keeper" where there is no answer, only complexity.  I think he might love that kind of thing, and so would I.  Maybe we take turns reading to each other and then discussing these types of books.

His dad still reads to him every night but they do more difficult historical and fact based books. Right now they are reading Crossing the Rubicon by Tom Holland. And before it was Guns, Germs, and Steel. So a different type of book. 

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Left field but, you could tie some reading to certain games. I'm not anti game at all, some of them are deep in character and complex storylines. I'm thinking along the lines of, read Atlas Shrugged (I know, I know, but it's the first example that came to mind) and then play BioShock (if you allow scary/violent games...) 

Also, my dh sees audio books as cheating too and it's really annoying 😄

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He plays strategy games - Starcraft, Civilization 

Also fantasy games - Skyrim

No scary/violent games here -- he would have nightmares. 

So Civilization might lead to some reading on history. I'll ask him about that.

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I just chatted with dh about this thread and he surprised me 😄

He used to be a mega gamer as a teen/early 20s. Building his own rigs, forgetting to eat, hosting lan parties (do they still do that?! Showing my age...) etc.  We wasted many a weekend playing video games.

He says it's like a drug and willpower is not enough. He says there is very very little value and they're largely a waste of time. He says he's become his dad 😆

If it's any consolation, he grew out of it and is an avid reader, lots of classics and dozens of books a year...

In the interests of feeding the addiction, has he played Portal? 😉

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I have to say my sons both dropped gaming when they had access to better intellectual stimulation and transportation to social life. 

2 hours ago, lewelma said:

But then the glitching starting happening where he would read and reread sentences, worried he was missing something, and this caused him to drop to easier and easier books in an effort to reduce the load

snip

But I will say that this boy is gifted in the language arts, and has deep insightful thoughts on complex content. And even reading fantasy, and rereading the same fantasy, he has picked up a rich vocabulary that he uses in his speech and writing.  He also is strong in metaphorical language and complexity in plot.  So the problem is NOT the content of the books. 

Have you looked at the passages that are tough?  I remember that happening to me in jr high; the knowing that I was missing something.  Unfortunately my teachers weren't too familiar with literary devices.  It was later in college that I found someone who could help me see what the lit authors were doing, and looking over my son's shoulder for AP English helped me access a few more.

Part of the problem is that ds does not like depressing books. He really wants uplifting books or humorous books, but we have kind of run through all those. Most quality literature deals with the more negative aspects of the human experience. And he is really not interested. 

Poetry may be helpful. 

 

 

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What about doing screen-fasts? I'm actually thinking about doing some for myself, and the boys this spring when the weather is good for getting outside. Hard to do that in the winter here. It's going to be harder for me than it is for them. I'm writing almost full time now, which means I have drafting to do, blogging, and I have to do some interaction on social media, networking with other writers, etc. But....you know what? I should really be reading and thinking more. So I will probably start limiting myself because I can. But there are things that can be used to measure the time you spend on screens, help you keep track of your time, and so forth.

Would he be willing to agree with you on some set limits on time spent on screens if there was no pressure at all to do other things with that time? 

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When my kids were little, I was, to some degree, Parent In Charge.  To a pretty large degree, I sat them down and said what we were going to learn or do, and it wasn't really negotiable.  That worked moderately well for me for little kids, but philosophically, by around age 8 or 9, I wasn't willing to do that anymore.  The way I feel about parenting small people is in a lot of ways pretty different from how I feel comfortable parenting big people, and while there's no hard or fast rule, by about age nine, I stop being willing to impose my will in an authoritative way.  With older kids, we practice what we call "aikido parenting," in that we talk (a lot), but I'm just flat out not comfortable imposing my will.  Now, I only have two kids, and while there's an assortment of special needs involved, they're pretty easy going kids, so I could definitely see a situation in which that flat out wouldn't work and I guess I'd have to figure out a different way of parenting.  But it would be hard for me.  I'm in charge in a lowercase sense, and I keep track of moving parts and details and facilitate things and make suggestions and even argue on occasion, but I don't mandate really anything with big kids.  But, the big caveat was that because I felt certain educational standards were non-negotiable, and I also wasn't comfortable imposing my will on them, I sent them to school around age nine.  If they were natural unschoolers who gravitated towards educational pursuits, it would be one thing, but while they learn a great deal left to their own devices, they don't do any math, writing, or foreign language on their own, and those are skills that I felt were necessary.  Hence sending them somewhere where somebody else mandated it.  

ETA:  I haven't mandated any real rules around screen time since they became big kids.  It seems hypocritical given the way both my husband and I use technology.  They do read, but not as much as I'd like.  But....my younger one, who has learning issues very similar to your kid, I think, has learned a staggering amount, mostly from YouTube.  Like, she can tell you exactly how to do a hysterectomy on a cow, despite never encountering one in real life, and she knows tons of history and while she's never read Dante's Inferno, she can tell you about it in exacting detail, all from various educational stuff she's watched on YouTube.  I wish she was inspired to independently read Inferno, but honestly, she's not.  She does read easier books, but she's willing to read pretty complex stuff on her own, too.  But, I know at some point she will read it for school, but she'll enter into the discussion leagues ahead, because she already knows the plot, the characters, and the themes.  

Edited by Terabith
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On 12/12/2019 at 11:41 AM, lewelma said:

Thanks so much to each of you for writing all that out! I'm not quite sure what I am looking for, perhaps just to explore how each of us does things differently so that I can increase the tools in my toolbox.

I am NOT Parent-In-Charge. Nope, can't do it and don't believe in it. However, I am in charge, with small caps.  I work through subtle influence to create internal desire and motivation to do what needs to be done. I don't think that my younger boy would have ever slogged through hours upon hours upon hours to remediate his dysgraphia effectively if had not *wanted* to do it, and he wanted to do it because over the years I have planted ideas in his mind that have grown.  I do NOT convince or argue or cajole . I do not lead from top down. I lead through influence as Lao Tsu described :

"A leader is best when people barely know he exists. When his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves."  

So what I find so interesting about Gil's approach and each of yours is the dynamic that your kids are *expected* to do what they are asked, but that you don't implement the 'obedience' or reward/punishment cycle. Or at least you don't appear to. My kids do NOT respond to reward/punishment, like they don't respond to it AT ALL. It builds resistance and resentment, and even at times retaliation. My older was an explosive child when he was young, and I was lucky to have found and read the best parenting book I have ever seen: "The Explosive Child" by Greene. His approach gave me insight, and I ran with it and changed it to make it my own.  He works *with* kids to solve problems-- to come up with solutions that are acceptable to BOTH the parent and the child. This book started me down the path of working *with* my kids, rather than directing from on high.  And as I described above, I have changed his approach to create internal drive and motivation in both my boys to do even what they don't like doing. 

So when my younger boy says 'no,' I don't convince, but I do remind him of his goals and ask him what his plan is. I'm not manipulative; I am honestly asking how he plans to deal with what I perceive as a problem. But if he doesn't perceive of it as a problem, I work over many months to plant little seeds of ideas. This is how I changed my younger son from eating too many sweets, to having an internal desire to eat more healthily. I believe these month-long efforts of mine create long-term solutions because he owns them. 

So I guess I'm wondering about how you guys create internal motivation with top down parenting. And I'm curious when you use different approaches with the same kid.  I have run into a couple of situations with my younger (one in particular) that have been much harder to manage with my approach.  So I'm kicking around a more top down approach, but I am hesitant to implement it because it goes against our long-standing and very-effective peer dynamic. 

Ruth in NZ

 

I am not certain if I am a top-down parent. My kids (like myself) tend not to question reasonable authority. What this looks like in practice is that I have a list of our subjects to cover each day written on a white board. Each item is something I think is worthwhile for them to do, is within their ZPD, and has been catered to their interest/ability (i.e. which specific math curriculum or phonics, etc). When they finish each item, they check it off of the white board. This white board is treated as some sort of god by them: if the white board says it isnt yet done, it must be done. They do not argue with the all-powerful whiteboard. I dont think it occurs to them to question the power of the white board. 

My kids also do not question the fact that we school more days than anyone I know. We do math, phonics (for those who need it), reading, science, and history year-round (with lighter math in the summer). 

I issue no rewards or punishments for finishing their work. I do give leniency on particularly busy days (we are far enough ahead that it doesnt matter). I remove privileges for things like excessive whining. 

I hope this doesnt sound like my children are angels:). My eldest is only in middle school, so I have not hit some of the more...exciting stages yet. One of my kids is rather challenging and quite intense, but thus far he has not questioned the omnipotent white board.

Edited by annegables
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5 hours ago, lewelma said:

This is key. I think I have been going after the wrong books to up his level. Classics, modern literary fiction, etc. Instead, I need to find out what ideas he wants to explore and find books that attack many angles of the problem. Something like 'My sister's keeper" where there is no answer, only complexity.  I think he might love that kind of thing, and so would I.  Maybe we take turns reading to each other and then discussing these types of books.

His dad still reads to him every night but they do more difficult historical and fact based books. Right now they are reading Crossing the Rubicon by Tom Holland. And before it was Guns, Germs, and Steel. So a different type of book. 

Is it worth finding some book related podcasts for him to listen to?  I’ve been enjoying the Angelina Stanford/Cindy Rollins the literary life one.  It may be a bit too homeschool mum focused for him but maybe there’s others.  The books they are tackling are a decent mix of heavy and light.  They’re currently doing northanger abbey if he’s after some more Austen.  
i know for me listening to them or modern Mrs Darcy etc gets me inspired to read and get more out of the books.

my kids who’s not quite enjoying the heavier classics yet has enjoyed some of the Campion novels.  They have enough meat but also enough fun to be compelling.  I did push him through David copper field but in hindsight it was too soon.  I’m thinking of going to John Buchan or some of the tamer Neville Shute next for something in between.

i wonder if part of his problem is that there’s quite a dearth of decent in between books that aren’t kids classics but aren’t full scale adult classics.  There’s YA but it’s often very teen focussed and inward looking.

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I haven’t read them but Sarah mcKenzie from read aloud revival recommends Gary D Schmidt’s  “okay for now” a lot for this ages
 

sorry about my capitalisation/grammar here my phone typing is sloppy!

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15 hours ago, lewelma said:

So screens are not the only problem, the reading definitely is. It is the slide in reading that has caused him to revert to screens. I have suggested that he read easy books but then listen to harder books.  He did that with Pride and Prejudice and LOVED it.  But I have not been able to get him to listen to another one this whole year.  He says he feels it is cheating.  He believes that if he can't read the books he shouldn't listen to them.  Suggestions for how to attack that reasoning? I have tried a few things but would love to hear your thoughts. 

I get into book slumps. I know I am in one when I gravitate towards the computer more than books. This year was pretty intense with reading some challenging (content and reading level) and by Oct, I had burned out from reading classics for a bit. So I fell back on the old standby that gets me out of a reading slump - cozy mysteries. It is such a win for my brain. They are written at an 8th grade level roughly, can be finished in a few hours, and require nothing of me. I can sort of shut off my brain and just enjoy a fun story as the written word washes over me and declutters my brain. 

Sometimes I need to do this for a few months before re-engaging with harder books. 

Are there some "fun" middle grade fantasy books he hasnt read, like Brandon Mull's stuff? 5 Kingdoms and Fablehaven are great, and they helped get me out of a reading slump. My son loved these and I loved these.

I also love to read funny poetry, like Jack Prelutsky. Short, funny, gets me laughing. He was the children's poet laureate.

Another thing that helped me was listening to the CLose Reads podcast by Circe. They do literature analysis and it is super interesting. For instance, they did Murder Must Advertise, by Dorothy Sayers, and it was about 8 episodes of them just geeking out on the book, several chapters at a time. They have done a bunch of the classics. So it isnt "cheating" according to your son, it is more like listening in on a group of well-educated book-lovers. They are coming at it from a Christian worldview, fyi.

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15 hours ago, lewelma said:

So screens are not the only problem, the reading definitely is. It is the slide in reading that has caused him to revert to screens. I have suggested that he read easy books but then listen to harder books.  He did that with Pride and Prejudice and LOVED it.  But I have not been able to get him to listen to another one this whole year.  He says he feels it is cheating.  He believes that if he can't read the books he shouldn't listen to them.  Suggestions for how to attack that reasoning? I have tried a few things but would love to hear your thoughts. 

Would he be open to listening to the audio book while following along with the physical book?

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In pother posts, you have indicated that your DS has made huge strides in his writing abilities. Perhaps it is possible that he has stepped back in his reading (which you say is also hard for him) in order to make that transition possible. Perhaps he just needs more time to level out/settle into his new normal? In any case, I think your idea of sort of "inviting" him back to more complex literature is a good one.

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I don't have any help to offer the op, but I'm reading about the different parenting strategies with interest. My kids are 7, 6, 3, and turning one in a few days. I have at least three different parenting strategies going on due to the different needs those ages bring, and I expect we will need to change considerably in coming years as well. 

We come at parenting with a "raising kids to be competent humans" approach. There are times with little ones where we have to impose our will and demand obedience, but that's not a useful long term strategy for us. We try to have few rules and explain those rules well. For example, no, our kids don't have to make their beds, but we do remind them they might be embarrassed when friends come over, and if things get too messy, friends won't be allowed in their rooms at all because things get broken in messy rooms. When my kids balk at tooth brushing, I remind them they only have to brush the teeth that they don't want holes in, and that works to motivate them (though one doesn't use tooth paste because he can't stand the texture, and the literature I've read suggests that vigorous brushing and drinking fluoridated water should be fine)

My freshly turned six year old is in a stage now where he likes to loudly proclaim what he is or isn't going to do and that he is in charge. It's funny because my now seven year old did almost exactly the same at about the same age. I disengage until he's calmer, then we discuss whether he's ready for adult responsibilities. It's easy for him to see he's not, then we discuss. My husband and I have a policy of not arguing with drunk people or children, which really means don't argue. Find a way to step back and get calm, then discuss when people are ready. (He's a police officer, which is where the drunk people come into play. He says it's amazing how many people, including police officers, will let themselves get dragged into arguments with drunk people.)

About once every couple of months I have a conversation with my older two about how it's my job to help them grow into competent humans beings who make good choices. I can either do that job by working with them or by forcing them to do xyz, but I absolutely have to do my job. There may be some grumbling still, but they see it will work better for everyone to cooperate, so they do. The three year old is getting there. I keep things shorter with him. He doesn't want to go to bed, I remind him he doesn't want to be cranky. If he still refuses, I say, "oh, you are the mama now? I'm hungry, can you cook me some more food? I need milk, please get me milk!" Generally he giggles, gets the point, and complies. Occasionally he's too tired to be rational so I pick him up, put him in bed and give him cuddles as possible. On those days he's usually asleep within there minutes of being still.

The baby is different, of course. That's where I see a big difference between my parenting and that if some friends. I see a lot of people big into NO! and others keep everything out of teach unless it is specifically made for baby. A few others just ignore problems. We try hard to teach early on. I hold the baby while I'm working on the stove. We look together at the flame and I talk about how hot it is. We are near enough to feel heat. I keep little hands from darting into danger, but I will let them get slightly uncomfortable. I try to say things like "Ouch, hot!" Or "gentle hands, that could break!" when something could be dangerous instead of NO for everything. (Or the dreaded "be careful!" I say it myself sometimes, but really, that's the most useless thing to yell. It distracts the poor kid while giving them no useful information.)

Mostly, my kids are hyper rational at an early age, so I parent what I have. This appalls some of my friends and family, some of whom hold the idea of "if you don't teach them to instantly obey you, they won't learn to obey God/the government and will be bounds for hell/jail." Thankfully it had worked well enough and my kids are naturally polite enough that they are well behaved kids and casual aquaintences believe us to be far stricter than we are.

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Thanks for your post, xahm

 For example, no, our kids don't have to make their beds, but we do remind them they might be embarrassed when friends come over, and if things get too messy, friends won't be allowed in their rooms at all because things get broken in messy rooms.

My approach is slightly different from yours. I am really into modelling.  For a child's room, I simply keep it tidy no matter my ds's age during my daily run through - make the bed if they haven't, pick up clothes, whatever.  And then throughout the year, I just comment on how it is so nice to live in a tidy house. How it only takes a few minutes every day.  And, oh, do you think you could make your bed?  But then I just keep tidying like I always do, and make his bed if he hasn't. Over time, my kids just take over. My younger ds yesterday took 45 minutes with the vacuum to deep clean his room for the first time.  I didn't tell him to. And then he said, 'I think I should do this once a month.'  Older boy has told me that he has by far the tidiest room in the dorm.

So no nagging, rules, punishments, rewards over here. But consistent modelling and positive commentary have created kids who like a tidy house and will tidy on their own because they have internalized the value.  This is basically my approach for to almost everything. 

 

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6 hours ago, Florimell said:

In pother posts, you have indicated that your DS has made huge strides in his writing abilities. Perhaps it is possible that he has stepped back in his reading (which you say is also hard for him) in order to make that transition possible. Perhaps he just needs more time to level out/settle into his new normal? In any case, I think your idea of sort of "inviting" him back to more complex literature is a good one.

This. I thought of this last night. 

We have started our discussions based on what we have been discussing on this thread. Can't do it all at once, because then it seems like a lecture or a chore or 'oh, mom is trying to convince me of something.' So the first step was the reading.  I'm going with the positive angle, so avoiding the screen conversation.  I read him lots of the ideas on my other book thread, and he was really into explaining to me why not this book or that.  What he liked about the ones recommended that he had read etc.  He also informed me that he is *not* interested in social commentary. haha. So I definitely missed the boat on that one, but the thread helped him figure out what he *was* interested in.  I talked to him about whether he needs something a bit deep than what he is reading so that he can really dig his teeth into it, but also told him that sometimes it is also nice to have lighter reading when you are in the mood -- so validating light reading so he didn't feel judged.  He agreed.  I also asked him what he got out of books. First, I told him what I get, simple easy entertainment when I'm tired and go after an easy book, or analytical engagement when I go after a hard one.  He really surprised me and said that he gets out imagination and creativity.  Um, oh. He is so not like me.  We had a good laugh. But it was really helpful to think about a literary person and how he experiences books differently to me.

He told me about his favorite book, and why he liked it. He really likes books with complex plots and characterizations but that are story based rather than scenario based. He told me that many sci fi books try to lead him to a certain conclusion, and he much prefers books that have morally ambiguous characters because they help him think deeply about human interaction and draw his *own* conclusion. So basically he is into grim-dark fantasy, which is very mature and complex, but then he likes some easy YA fantasy that is good vs evil simplicity. So, went to Amazon and bought books to fill my older boy's suitcase with both complex novels and easy ones. Older ds is coming home in a week -- so free shipping!

My ds is a *deep* and *insightful* reader.  But he is also very social. So I am trying to decide if I am willing to listen to the books that he reads like I used to with my older boy.  Older ds was very motivated to get through some tough stuff because we were doing it together.  The difference is that Crime and Punishment has free audiobooks, and for younger ds's modern fiction I would have to pay for audiobooks.  But may be a good investment.  Need to think on that one. 

Next up is thinking about what he wants to accomplish over school holidays.  Then a couple of days after that we can lay out a schedule which is when we will discuss screens. Slow and steady wins the race. I will continue to reinforce the book discussion over the next few days. Encourage him to embrace what he loves -- imagination, creativity, morally ambiguous characters. I'll ask him more about what he learned from his favorite book. Validation is key. That and actually listening. 

 

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38 minutes ago, lewelma said:

Thanks for your post, xahm

 

 

My approach is slightly different from yours. I am really into modelling.  For a child's room, I simply keep it tidy no matter my ds's age during my daily run through - make the bed if they haven't, pick up clothes, whatever.  And then throughout the year, I just comment on how it is so nice to live in a tidy house. How it only takes a few minutes every day.  And, oh, do you think you could make your bed?  But then I just keep tidying like I always do, and make his bed if he hasn't. Over time, my kids just take over. My younger ds yesterday took 45 minutes with the vacuum to deep clean his room for the first time.  I didn't tell him to. And then he said, 'I think I should do this once a month.'  Older boy has told me that he has by far the tidiest room in the dorm.

So no nagging, rules, punishments, rewards over here. But consistent modelling and positive commentary have created kids who like a tidy house and will tidy on their own because they have internalized the value.  This is basically my approach for to almost everything. 

 

I hope I can get to that, but it would require me being a tidier person than I'm currently capable of being. It's getting easier by the day, but my husband was gone for military stuff during most of my fourth pregnancy and the first six months of this baby's life, so I'm working on shifting out of "survival mode" habits and finding our new normal. 

My seven year old is a neat person, and I think the six year old will be, too, once he gets his own room. We are shifting furniture around now. I'm also caught in my mind as I don't want to make tidiness so much the goal that they get overly upset when little brother dumps something out which he shouldn't. Eventually that won't be a concern either, but we have probably two or three more years of that being a distinct likelihood.

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32 minutes ago, xahm said:

I hope I can get to that, but it would require me being a tidier person than I'm currently capable of being. It's getting easier by the day, but my husband was gone for military stuff during most of my fourth pregnancy and the first six months of this baby's life, so I'm working on shifting out of "survival mode" habits and finding our new normal. 

My seven year old is a neat person, and I think the six year old will be, too, once he gets his own room. We are shifting furniture around now. I'm also caught in my mind as I don't want to make tidiness so much the goal that they get overly upset when little brother dumps something out which he shouldn't. Eventually that won't be a concern either, but we have probably two or three more years of that being a distinct likelihood.

Oh, I quite like your approach.  Kids need to understand natural consequences.  And it has been a LONG time since I had little people. 🙂 Because I tutor in my home, I have to keep it pretty tidy (not that my tutor kids look in my boy's bedroom haha).  But my house is quite tidy because I run a business here.

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If you want to attack the audio book angle, you might tell him that a fantasy writer you know is very, very excited about possibly publishing audio BEFORE print. 😁 Telling stories existed a long time before writing them down, and listening to a story read can be closer to a deep experience of reading because there's no skimming words. I won't even call a book finished until I've read it aloud to listen to every word to make sure the sentences flow. 

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1 minute ago, Critterfixer said:

Telling stories existed a long time before writing them down, and listening to a story read can be closer to a deep experience of reading because there's no skimming words.

oooh. I like this.  🙂 

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