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Family Reading Time with Special Needs Children

As I've been recovering from a debilitating depressive episode this past winter, I've been slowly working myself back into doing daily reading with my kids. One thing I realized, as I started trying to read to them again is how frustrating it is for me to try and read to them when they're not able to sit still! I end up hurting my voice trying to speak over their playing, and it makes me really anxious to try and sit down with them to read.

It makes me so sad, because I love reading! I want to share that with my kids! While we have an Audible account, and listen to audio books every day, I know they have missed the bonding of me reading to them. But I can't shout books at them all morning, and they can't sit still just listening, so we've been a bit stuck. Until, one day....

I bought them some slime on a whim. I'm not fond of slime, but they sure are, and they wanted to use it all over the house. I decided that I would only let them use it at the kitchen table, and, to keep things consistent, we would only pull it out when I sat down to read to them. The first day we did it was amazing! The boys listened quietly while gazing intently at the dripping drooping slime, squishing happily while I read to them. That first day we read through seven chapters!

I was also able to do our family scripture study, something that had been increasingly difficult as I have a child that has become religion-resistant. He's only just turned 7. I'm in for a wild ride with all of them, but he's going to be a particular kind of challenge! But, while he was playing with the slime I didn't have a word of complaint out of him.

I am still working on getting us to a daily habit again, mornings have been difficult as we've been sick for a few weeks, but things are gradually improving. I've begun to develop a list of ideas that we can use during reading time to keep hands occupied so that minds can have the space to listen to what's being read. When children have ADHD - or even just a family history of ADHD without a diagnosis - the need to move is real. Our brains function better when we can be in motion some way whether it is playing with slime, building with blocks, or (in my case) just aggressively chewing gum.

I've come up with a short list of things we can do while reading together that allow the kids to play quietly while I read with few interruptions. Because, let's face it, there are always interruptions! Children want to show off a new trick with slime, or show me some creations they have made, or just need a minute to engage in Lego-based warfare while they test out their creations. I find that I can get impatient when there are too many interruptions, so I remind myself that it's okay for me to take a break as well.

I've made a small printable here with ideas that you can use to read to your "Can't Sit Still Syndrome" children to make reading time go more smoothly! This is a great way to not only help structure your reading time together, but also help you figure out and manage your own stress triggers while you read to your family! Click the button below to download your free printable. Stay blessed friends!

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