Problem: It’s getting late in the year, and you have done little in the way of homeschool writing. All the blogs and stores carry Fall decorations, turkeys, Thanksgiving tableware, and manger scenes mixed with Santas. Trees, ornaments, lights, sparkle, and fun! New Year’s ornaments!
You’re making plans to visit with relatives for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. Recipes and presents fill your head! Since the weather tells you it’s the holiday, you don’t want to focus on school work, and your kids agree!
Something in your head keeps nagging: you homeschool, so you should teach something during this season, shouldn’t you? Yes! (Well, sorta!)
Solution: Play games! Demonstrate how to be grateful for your family’s pets! [Oh, and slip in some writing skills practice WITHOUT putting words on paper if you don’t want to write!]
Talk it out (just talk, don’t write–unless you want to!)
Have you shared your favorite recipe for stuffing lately? Have you told somebody how to make cranberry sauce? Every time you organize your thoughts and explain how to do something, you exercise a lot of thinking skills (and it doesn’t even hurt!).
Telling content from memory shows you are at the heart of learning. You remember it! Classical schoolers and Charlotte Mason call it “narration.” Then the process grows into writing.
Exercise those skills by explaining the rules of a game to your pet. This provides a terrific experience!
Animals are fun to talk about! Talking about them gives your kids some education in character and provides a learning task. Thinking and planning grow into writing (later)!
That “S” word.
When you’re new to homeschooling, one of the first questions people ask is, “What about socialization?” It’s a valid question and one that has a lot of different answers. As you’ll see, I stopped those by making them laugh!
Another common question is, “What about writing?” And people follow with, “You’re not comfortable writing yourself. How are you going to guide your student?”
One answer that might surprise you: pets!
That’s right; animals can be great friends and social support for kids of all ages. There’s serious science showing that animal interaction can have a calming effect on stress, fear, and anxiety.
Thus, most kids enjoy watching the pets in our videos used to teach writing! Our classes at playwith.education use the WriteShop curriculum. But our tips cover all the programs: Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW), Sonlight,
So, if you’re looking for a furry (or feathered or scaly) friend to help your homeschooler socialize, you’re in luck! Keep reading to learn more about the power of socialization with animals and how you can use it to strengthen their writing without them noticing. They can learn foundations without even doing any writing at all!
How Playing Games with Pets Helps With Socialization
Animals can help with socialization in many ways! For example, dogs can provide companionship and unconditional love. They can also teach responsibility, empathy, and how to care for others. Cats can offer similar benefits; plus, they can help kids learn patience and gentleness.
Other animals, like rabbits and guinea pigs, can help kids learn how to nurture and care for living creatures. And horses can provide a sense of calm and peace while teaching kids about trust and respect.
But why do animals have such a calming effect? Scientists need more experiments to know why it works and how much animal interaction we need for the best results. But published studies with robust data show paws have a place in medicine and mental well-being.
Each in their way, animals love to play games with people! Please download our list of fun games (they teach
So, if you’re looking for a way to help your homeschooler with socialization, don’t discount the power of animal friendships! From dogs and cats to rabbits and guinea pigs, many animals can offer companionship, unconditional love, and a sense of calm.
Plus, they have the bonus of teaching kids important life skills like responsibility, empathy, and respect. Do some research to find the perfect furry (or feathered or scaly) friend for your family—it might surprise you how much they offer!
Pets have another excellent skill: They sit and listen.
The Importance of Socializing by Reading Aloud
When was the last time you listened to someone read aloud? Do you remember reading with your family before bed as a child? Research has shown that when children see adults read, they are more likely to become readers. When students share positive reading experiences with adults, such as reading aloud, they associate reading with support, kindness, and joy.
Reading aloud and talking about what you read encourages social-emotional learning, empathy, and conversation skills—working-age adults often forget how much skill they need to read aloud. I was so surprised at how much concentration it took to read aloud and how long it took me to build up the skill to read for more than just a few minutes!
The more one reads aloud—no matter the age—the deeper the connections and the stronger the vocabulary learned. Fluency, vocabulary, and social-emotional learning are not just for kids! Much research supports the benefits of reading aloud for people of all ages.
When kids practice speaking words written by others, these more complicated messages and terms become easier for them to say when they later express their thoughts. They also become more comfortable with intricate sentence patterns like the ones in those books. And pets make a valuable uncritical audience.
The Benefits of Reading Aloud to Pets
Books influence our character and help make us the people we are. Reading aloud has many benefits! For the reader, it is a great way to practice fluency and expand vocabulary. It also allows the reader to slow down and pay attention to the details in a text.
For the listener, it is a chance to hear unfamiliar words and ideas. It can also be a way of bonding with someone or showing empathy.
When choosing a book, find one you are interested in and enjoy. Don’t know if it’s true or not, but our pets tell us they prefer books about them, so here’s more on How to Use Literature to Enhance Your Relationship with Your Animal.
If you are reading to people instead of pets, here are a few tips:
- Make sure you know the material. If the text is new to you, take some time to read it before you read it aloud.
- Pay attention to your audience. If they seem bored or lost, try rephrasing or summarizing what you have just read.
- Have fun! The more expressive you are while reading, the more your audience will be engaged. Books about animals give you a fun time to play with voices and sounds and growls and grrrrs and howls!!!
Reading aloud is an important skill! The next time you find yourself with some spare time, why not grab a book and your guinea pig, snuggle up, and give reading aloud a try. It might surprise you how much you enjoy socializing and reading!
If you’d like more ideas, get our free download: 9 Fun Games to Play with Your Pet! Enjoy socializing with your pets AND help your kids develop the core thinking skills behind their future masterpieces.