Audio books are so wonderful for children to enjoy!
Have you heard of this delightful, FREE website?
After learning about BooksShouldBeFree.com, I'm embarrassed to admit that a few months ago, I paid for an annual subscription to a website that organizes free audio books (in the public domain due to age) by theme, topic, style, and period. We've used a lot of audio books like that in our home educating.
After finding BooksShouldBeFree.com, I don't think that I'll renew my subscription when it comes due. The frugal side of me prefers not to pay for something that I can obtain at no cost!
BooksShouldBeFree.com has a variety of public domain free audio books for download, including the following genres:
Here is a very small sampling of the kinds of books that are offered for free download. You'll notice that most of the books are what people refer to as "the classics", although not all of them would be classified in this way.
Not only does each category page show the book covers with the accompanied audio story, it also provides additional lists of up to hundreds of other free downloads in the same category.
The list of books is very extensive! Most of the books I've seen on the site tonight are geared for the upper elementary through adult level, so you won't find Dr. Suess books here.
Now that both of my children are in the junior high school and high school years, I appreciate having free resources for their age group. So many free sites are geared for the younger ages, so this is perfect for where we are at right now...and for the next few years until the girls graduate from high school.
Some children (and adults!) prefer not to listen to audio stories.
Maybe your child's weakest mode of learning is "audio."
One of my child's greatest learning strengths is AUDIO. The other daughter's weakest learning mode is AUDIO.
Of course, our two children are opposites when it comes to learning styles. They are opposite in almost everything, although sometimes outside observers don't see this. I just know that God has such a great sense of humor when He gifts our children in the way that He does!
What should you do if your child's weakest learning mode is AUDIO?
I'm not an audiologist, and when I was teaching in the public school system, I didn't even have time to think about how to help children improve their audio skills.
So, the advice I'm offering here is just what I did with my daughter who is very weak with audio skills...or WAS very weak with her listening skills. She has much improved this very weak area of her life now!
When our youngest daughter was old enough to sit at the couch with us for bedtime stories and our family Bible time each night (probably around 10 months old, although we did begin reading earlier than that to her), we noticed right away that it was almost impossible for her to sit still and listen.
For our older daughter, sitting quietly and focusing on a story with us was a very natural trait of hers. God has blessed her with the ability to focus and listen.
We weren't sure what to do with our youngest in this area. Since our goal for both girls was to teach them to sit still and focus each evening while reading the Bible together and looking at children's stories, we knew that our youngest wouldn't be allowed to be "excluded" from this family time.
With our oldest, we just enjoyed having her sit with us, soaking in all that we shared with her. With Brittany, our youngest, we had her sit with us for more limited amounts of time, during very short, age-appropriate Bible stories and Christian books each evening.
As Brittany grew, we gradually lengthened the amount of time we expected her to sit on our laps or at our sides and watch and "read" with us. I would say that we expected her to sit with us for about 2 minutes for each year of age that she was. This seemed to be a worthwhile goal, one that we decided was obtainable for her.
While Brittany would sit on our lap or next to us on the couch, one of us would gently rub her back, or give her a back scratch. She has always been a very tactile and "hands on" learner. A gentle back scratch or back rub has almost always enabled her to meet our goal of having her sit still and quiet and remain focused.
This is very common with kinesthetic, hands-on learners. More than often, these are boys, but occasionally, you'll see girls like this. That's our Brittany, and we just love her dearly!
Brittany was included in our home educating just because she was a member of our family. When she saw big sister doing fun things like coloring, cutting and pasting, etc. during Kelsi's Kindergarten and first grade years, Brittany wanted to be right there in the middle of the action. I found that if Brittany kept her hands busy, her mind would be engaged as well.
Sometimes, I would read stories to the girls while Kelsi worked on kindergarten skills...and Brittany would scribble as a three-year-old.
As Brittany became used to hearing stories, and her attention began to slightly lengthen, I could tell that she still didn't really like listening to stories. She would tell me that she really preferred to look at pictures in the books or watch stories on television, which we greatly limited (the television, not the books!). Even at age 8, she would prefer to read picture books instead of chapter books, though she was a very solid, advanced reader by age 8.
I began to check out audio CDs from our local library. I would pick out age-appropriate stories for both girls, and once or twice each week during breakfast, I would put in a CD for us to enjoy. Now, since Brittany was still quite young (age 2-4) and sitting in a booster seat, she was "trapped" a bit at the table while she ate, being able to get tactile stimulation from moving her arms and legs and eating at the same time.
At first, I would check out those audio CDs that also included a paperback version of the story. I'd spread it out on the table and turn the pages as the story progressed. This helped Brittany to focus what she was listening to with what she was seeing on the pages of the book.
Over time, as she grew to be five or six years of age, I began to check out some audio stories that no longer came with accompanying books. It took her a little while to transition to those stand-alone audio stories, but because she was at the breakfast table and still had the freedom to wiggle her arms and legs (and eat food - her favorite!), this worked for her.
When she was five, I also began having her help big sister Kelsi fold the family's laundry. Brittany was not thrilled about such an adventure, after she got over the excitement of learning how to fold clothes. Even though this is the only weekly chore that I pay my children to do around the house, money was not a motivator for her to enjoy folding laundry. After all, it was WORK.
So, to help prevent any squabbles or too much silliness while folding clothes, which would greatly slow them down, I began turning on audio stories from chapter books. Yes, Brittany was too young for listening to an entire chapter - but again, she was in a position where she needed to stay there for an extended length of time, and she was still able to move around and touch things, which provided a tactile stimulus once again, something she really needed.
Something wonderful happened with Brittany over the next couple of years. She began to really enjoy listening to audio stories on CD!
I was thrilled! I was SO grateful that the Lord enabled me to see this desire to move and be engaged in one of my children while she did her best to learn to listen!
We have continued bringing home audio CDs from the library and downloading free stories for the girls to enjoy while folding clothes 1-2 times per week.
In fact, if they can't agree on something they'd like to listen to while folding laundry, or we haven't had the chance to run to the library that week, they have a hard time concealing their disappointment...they want something to listen to while doing their chores! They will listen to music while they fold clothes, but that isn't their first choice. That makes me smile!
Brittany's audio skills will never be the best form of learning for her. However, at age 10 she is able to handle the challenge of sitting still and listening to the pastor at church, or a lecture on PBS, or a documentary on Netflix.
Of course, she still scoots close, turns her back away from me, and gives me her special look which means, "I'm ready for a back scratch, Mom!"
Some things never change. But Brittany's audio skills have improved tremendously, and I am grateful that one of the ways we've helped her was to provide audio stories at her age level and interest level, at the right times of day, in the right way.
What kinds of things have you done to improve your children's listening skills?
Hi! I'm Julieanne!