Family ends the day with a 'children's hour'

My return to part-time teaching was most pleasant for me. But I wondered whether our two children, then a preschooler and a kindergartner, would continue to get the kind of attention they deserved from me when I was home?

To make sure that we enjoyed each other's full, uninterrupted attention, we started ''Children's Hour.'' Now, 41/2 years later, this precious time is still a daily event at our house.

After supper, while I do the dishes the children get ready for bed. Then we all meet on the couch, and ''our hour'' begins. Because of the special demands of my husband's business, he can't participate in early-evening activities on a daily basis. To compensate, he plans his weekends to feature family hikes, museum excursions, and trips.

When the children were pre-kindergartners, ''Children's Hour'' began with letter flashcards or one page per evening of Lippincott's ''Basic Reader.'' Then I read aloud to the children.

Now both can read, and we take turns, each reading a page at a time. Then I conclude by reading a long story aloud from library books we've chosen earlier.

Sometimes the children like to present a play or show a dance for the first part of our time together. Occasionally they want to begin with a game of cards. For a few weeks our son needed nightly practice on math flashcards. Sex education has made a comfortable debut through family sharing of well-written library books. We've also started the evening's gathering by showing slides of family trips.

But the essence of each gathering is reading. The reason and benefits include keeping in touch, snuggling close together, caring about one another, and showing it.

Yes, I'm back at work. I don't spend as many hours at home as I used to. But when the children and I are there, no matter how busy each one is with friends, dancing lessons, soccer practice, or housework, the day will end with a happy, together time, which none of us ever wants to miss.

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