My name is Loretta Lambert, and I homeschooled my four children for twenty-three years. I began when I was pregnant with our third child, and I can honestly say that the day I began in September 1993, I had no idea how much it would change my life, as well as my husband’s and our four children. It is always difficult for me to be brief, but hopefully, I can share more of my homeschooling journey with you over the next few months. I think it is important to say up front that by the grace of God, my four children walk with the Lord Jesus Christ and wound up receiving many college scholarships from reputable universities in the United States. Why include the part about the college scholarships, you might ask? Well, it’s because I believe it was my goal as their teacher to help them discover what they were gifted to do along the way.
Since I have only so much space each month, let me share about our eldest son. We learned early on that he was going to be a very late reader. In fact, he did not read well until the age of eleven years old. Did that worry me? Absolutely. Did I cry a lot that he didn’t fit the mold for those early years? Absolutely. But his story didn’t end in elementary school. It had only just begun. It caused me to do a great deal of research on how I could pass on a love for learning to my very late reader, and what I learned was so incredible I found myself crying over something new. A 1985 report by the National Commission on Reading stated that reading aloud is the single most important contribution that parents can make toward their child’s success in school. When I came across this research, I started to cry. I began to gather the information that would shape my philosophy of education forever. I decided that unless an earthquake hit our home, we would read aloud every day, and it wound up coming close to four hours a day in the elementary school years. We couldn’t stop!
Let me race to the end of our son’s story. When he was fifteen years old, he began to dream of attending the United States Military Academy at West Point. He knew it would be an uphill battle! He needed a nomination from Congressman Darrell Issa and then an appointment from the United States President. I believe that the stories we read to him in the earlier years kept him going when the dream looked pretty shaky on all accounts. Well, he received his appointment to West Point on a sunny, very happy day in April 2007 and graduated and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army in May 2011. Presently, he is about to be promoted from Captain to Major. Today you will find him jumping out of airplanes with his men as an Airborne Army Ranger either in Afghanistan or Ft. Benning, Georgia in the 75th Ranger Regiment. I say all of this to let you know that when he was in the sixth grade and seventh grade, he was still struggling to read, and many tears were shed. Our family took it very seriously, and I began to stay up nights searching for books to read aloud to him and my three daughters. I also rented books on tape that he would listen to for close to fifteen hours a week. He knew he was waiting for the day he could read on his own, and it was a heavy trial for him. After he was embarrassed in a Sunday School class in the fourth grade when the teacher asked him to read, he begged me to never have that happen again.
Let me close with a final story that I smile about every time God calls it to mind. It would be thirteen years before he would read aloud in front of any person besides our family. Two days before he graduated from West Point, the Chaplain’s office asked him to read aloud Joshua 1:1-9 at the Convocation Service that evening. My mouth just dropped open, and I began to run to the Chapel on campus. He ran after me and asked me where I was going. I said, “Joseph, I have been waiting to hear you read aloud for thirteen years and I am going to sneak into the chapel and just sit there and wait.” He laughed and let me go. I sat there for almost three hours, just waiting and praying for our son. That night in front of a thousand people in Cadet Chapel at West Point with three Generals in the front row staring right at him, he did it! He read aloud perfectly. Of course, tears ran down my cheeks like a faucet since I kept calling to mind the many times he had been made fun of. After the service, I saw people walk up to him and thank him for his reading that night. As I headed to bed, I couldn’t stop thanking God for giving me this great blessing. I knew that in those tough elementary school years, when the academic checklists could not be met, I knew that we would not give up. I knew that no matter what the outcome, I would grab onto the research (and there is a great deal of it!) and keep reading aloud to capture my children’s hearts. My original goal for homeschooling was to pass on a love for learning to my children. Step by step, year after year, I gathered information that made it very thrilling to educate my children at home all the way till they graduated high school. I sure hope and pray in some way, this story motivates you as the parent to keep on going and keep on reading aloud!
In his seventh edition of The Read-Aloud Handbook, author Jim Trelease passes the baton onto those who strongly desire to “advertise well” the unique and life-changing results of the tradition of reading aloud. There are many of us who can testify about the results of reading aloud.
Coupled with the educational research that is so stunning are the bridges that are built between the reader and the listeners. The growing relationship of the ‘shared story’ with each book read aloud is immeasurable.
Stop and think back to a book or even a quote from a book that captured your own imagination and caused you to dream a new dream, to think a new thought, and, ultimately, to change your life in some new way.
My deep desire is to carry this baton and pass it on to many others—to begin a new long race, not a sprint of sorts. As a competitive runner both in high school as well as in college, I learned that the longer races are where you need to be taught how to pace yourself, how to take breaks in between hard workouts, how to get out of bed and run even when you felt neither physically ready nor mentally ready. That is the kind of baton I hope and pray to pass on.
Any of you who begin to read aloud may feel uncomfortable. You will want to quit very quickly. How can this simple act of sitting on a couch reading aloud a book change a life? It doesn’t cover enough material. What about all the other subjects in school that go unaddressed while you just merely sit and read aloud to your child?
By the grace of God, my passion is to use this page to motivate, inspire and give you hope to keep on keeping on.