Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Help? I Really Want It

Here's the issue: my son is reading, writing, bright, getting it, doing great in school, one of the kids at the top of the class...blah, blah, blah. BUT! When it comes time for him to read to us at night he shuts down. He also avoids reading during free time at school.

He's one of only two boys that go to a 1st grade level reading group during the day, so we know he can read. And he likes this, going to his 1st grade reading group. But even his teacher noticed that when it comes to reading out of fun fiction books, he's less than enthused. Each student in the class has a book bag with books at their reading level, and while the other children sit down eagerly during free time to read their practice books, my son avoids this at all cost.

What should I do? Do I require him to read to us at night, make it a chore? Or, do I let it go. After all, he's only in kindergarten? But then I wonder about this summer. I want him to read throughout the summer and make reading gains, not the opposite. I've thought that maybe this summer we could have him read to his grandma to make it a bit more fun. Like at a certain time each day, he walks to her house and reads for 15 mins. And I admit that I have issues with my own level of patience listening to young readers. I figure with my mom's background in elementary teaching, she has a better reserve of patience than I do for the less-than-expressive-reader.

And next year, he has to read every night after school, I think. I hear other parents complain about the power struggles over homework, and I really want to avoid that trap.

So, what has worked for you? Anyone with early childhood background? Any tips?


Jennifer said...

So I have the early childhood and reading specialist piece, but I still have struggled with not making reading a chore when I want Aaron to do it every day. This year we started to let Aaron stay up a half hour more each night but just in his room with books. He can choose to read (which he almost always does) or go to sleep. There is nothing else to do in there. I make sure he has books on subjects that interest him and that there is a steady turn over. I also make sure to have books that are below, at, and above his current level. He's really into non-fiction with photographs right now. I think it has really worked because he is the one who is choosing and we aren't holding him accountable for that time. (But we still get an idea of what he's reading via conversations he's having with us throughout the day.)

Diana (Ladybug Limited) said...

During the school year, I wouldn't force the issue -- their brains are already so full! For Mugger, we did the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge online the summers after K and 1st grade and that totally did it, but then he's very motivated by competition! He liked both the team aspect of it (the kids are on 4 teams competing with each other as they tally their minutes) and being able to see his minutes accumulate over the summer.

The other thing we did along with that was to give him one cent from a Borders gift card I had for every minute he read -- by the end of the summer he had over $30 to spend as he chose and he was thrilled! I know bribery is generally frowned on (and we haven't done it since), but money was such a new concept to him then that he was thrilled to have some of his own to spend in a bookstore.

And actually, I think choice is the heart of the matter. Having preselected level-appropriate material is all well and good, but there is a fierce level of independence in new readers who are much happier if they get to pick their own books off the shelves. Mugger did pick a lot of non-fiction sports books that were too hard for him, but we eventually were able to guide him to the first chapter books to build his fluency and he ended up being quite the "Ready, Freddy" addict for awhile!

Oh and one last thing (can you tell I'm passionate about this?) you have to check out Horn Book's "Unlucky Arithmetic: Thirteen Ways to Raise a Nonreader" here: -- I keep meaning to post it on my own blog...

Genny said...

Keegan shys away from reading aloud too. Part of his homework requires he read aloud. We also ask him to read to his brother from time to time. Reading during free time didn't happen much until he discovered the Magic Treehouse books. Now he wants to sit and read and tries to read then entire book in a day. I think it is part enjoying the stories and part a personal competition to read all 43 in the series. So finding something he liked was the key for us.

Jen Rouse said...

Beth does not like reading out loud to Eric and I. I don't know why. Too much pressure (though I swear we're encouraging!)? Or does she feel like if we discover how well she can read, maybe we'll stop reading TO her? I don't get it. But I don't push it.

In kindergarten, she had reading worksheets to do every night. We forced her to do those because it was an assignment. Other than that, I never ask her to read aloud to us, because she clearly doesn't want to.

She reads aloud beautifully to her younger sisters, when they ask her to. I know she passes her reading assessments at school. We have always let her fall asleep at night with a reading light on and a stack of books to look at in bed. And over the course of the past year she has gotten to where she will now pick up an age-appropriate chapter book or picture book and read it silently to herself for enjoyment. So since clearly she is reading, if she just doesn't like reading out loud to her parents, I'm willing to let that one go (though I do wish she would! It's so fun to hear her read!)

Maybe that's Bren's issue? Maybe he just doesn't like riding out loud? Or doesn't like reading to parents?

Paula Jean said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paula Jean said...

I'm not an early childhood expert, but I did raise 3 kids through early childhood. Ha! At this point (kindergarten) I say try to hold it lightly. There's plenty of time to learn to love to read. It comes way easier for some kids, and frankly, some kids just enjoy it more. I'm not sure you can MAKE a kid love reading.

Joseph (age 17) doesn't choose to read for entertainment very often. A book has to really grab him. But he's a good reader, and does his homework, and I hope that eventually he'll choose reading more. On the other hand, Kelsey reads voraciously, and has since she was 6 years old.

What I'm saying is, it will come. Give him time and space. Read TO him if he doesn't want to read aloud to you.

Rebekah said...

Oh these responses were so great! I love the idea of just having books by his bed for him to look through. He does this from time to time, but I love the idea of a tub for him to flip through. He does love us reading to him, so I think we will just keep doing that. And Diana, he does love competition, so maybe something like that for the summer. I think you've encouraged me to just let it go. We had him read to us last night and he did just fine, so maybe he really just doesn't like reading out loud and to us. Maybe I'll try the reading to Grandma thing and tie it too reading time for the summer library program.

Last question: I'm letting it go for the school year, but do you think I should try and get him to read some out loud to someone this summer or let that go to?

Jennifer said...

Our Isaac is also in Kindergarten, and reads well at school, but doesn't like to do it 'for fun' or when required at home. We've determined his little brain is tired after school and its a struggle, rather than a pleasure, to remember the rules of reading at the end of the day. So, we do it right after school, and we use reward as an incentive. He gets a 'buck' every time he reads a Reader 10 times. (they're 8 page Readers). Ten 'bucks' gets him a prize from the treasure chest. He reads because he wants the bucks, but he's still doing it willingly! And, it becomes sort of a competition for him, he has a 'purpose' for reading.

Our Kindergarten teacher advocates: Make reading fun for KDG and 1st grade. Above all having them LOVE to read is the most important thing!

So, we use reward, we do it right after school (after a brief snack). Then its done, he's not so tired, he's earned his 'reward' and we move on. :)

My hope is that when he's older, loving the idea of reading (even if it was brought on by external incentives) will improve as he begins to comprehend wonderful fiction stories.

Diana (Ladybug Limited) said...

Hey Rebekah, I would let the reading out loud go, too, so that it doesn't have the joy sucked out of it :) He does have the advantage of having younger siblings, so it may be something he starts again on his own if they ask him. I know there were been times I was "too busy" to read to Bug, but Mugger was willing because he saw the value in it -- it makes much more sense to read to someone who can't than to read to your parents!

Sally said...

Spencer is in the first grade, but we let him stay up as late as he wants if he stays in bed reading. He loves it. He is required to read with us every night for homework. We make it fun and do it together. Sometimes he reads the short pages & I read the long. Sometimes we take turns reading every other page. Sometimes he reads the parts in quotes and I narrate and sometimes opposite of that. Changing it up makes it more fun for him (and I'll admit, also me). I also let him pick books that he WANTS to read, even if they are borderline inappropriate (Captain Underpants for example). He's learning what words are appropriate and not appropriate to say and he WANTS to read. His newest favorite is Junie B Jones. Such fun!

Heather said...

Try making it a special time for just you and him or him and Dad no one else. Let him pick the book and set a time limit. More less than x minutes, but don't stop him until he is ready after that. Also I wouldn't tell him how long he has to read to you, just tell him you will let him know when it is enough. Good luck!!