Monday, September 5, 2011

Reluctant Reader?

Mister J is a good reader when he wants to be.  He can read the notifications on my cell phone, he can read anything video-game or Lego-related, and he can read comics, Boys' Life, and other "fun" stuff.  I know there's something to be said for "fun" reading to help him learn to love reading - like his current favorite "Lunch Lady" books - but I know that he also needs to be reading things that challenge him. 

He is supposed to read for 15 minutes every afternoon as part of his homework.  He is also supposed to complete a reading log entry each day, noting the title and author of the book as well as answering a open-ended question (What did you think about what you read?).  It's that question that seems to be the stumbling block, and we are concerned that the reason for this is that J may be reading for accuracy, but not for comprehension.  Last year he was also supposed to read 15 minutes per day for homework, after which we were supposed to ask questions about/discuss what he'd read (What is the author's purpose?  Summarize what you read.  Fiction or non-fiction?  Etc.)  It was not pleasant then, either. 

Since it's difficult for me to gauge the accuracy of J's answers if he's reading something I have not read, I decided that J would need to select a book which I would read first.  Then I could have an informed discussion with him, perhaps prompting as needed to get the discussion going.

After a(nother) discussion this evening about our new reading plan, J selected a book.  We will begin reading the Magic Tree House series, starting with book 1.  (We have quite a few in the series, and we have read some of them before, but not as independent reading.)  As I explained to J that I would start reading tonight, and read a bit each day, he perked up.  He decided that he will try to catch up to me each evening during his reading time!  I'm thankful for how excited he seemed when he made it into a competition.  Of course, we will see how it goes, but I think I may have just gotten a peek into his motivation.  And I can relate, having been a teensy bit nerdy when I was in school.  I am also aware that he may get disappointed if I get too far ahead of him, so this will be a bit of a balancing act for the first little bit. 

I'm looking forward to:
Working through a series of books
Having academic discussions with my "little" boy
Tackling a variety of books - nonfiction?  more challenging chapter books? 

I'm wondering about:
Am I underestimating his ability?  Is the book we selected too easy?
Am I overestimating  his ability?  Should we be reading short stories?

Is this plan even going to work?

Some days I wish I had studied elementary education instead of higher ed administration.  Then I remember that I'm not really cut out to be a teacher.  Except that, as parents, aren't we all?

What's your biggest homework struggle?  What strategies have worked for you?

1 comment:

Michelle said...

Hi! I think your idea is a great one. As for your concerns about under/overestimating his ability, see how he gets on! If you see he is struggling, you can always change the series you're reading, and vice versa.
Kids love competition, so that is a great angle! :-)
A couple of years ago, I set up a reading incentive/reading log website for my 2 reluctant reader boys, and added all sorts of 'incentive' elements to it, just trying to get them reading more! You might be interested in signing your son up at Sign yourself up as a 'teacher', and then create a group for yourselves (just the 2 of you is fine!!). Create an account for your son. If he likes competition, he will really enjoy the 'Reading Race', where the 2 of you can collect 'smileys' for your reading minutes, and 'race' against each other to see who gets more. Kids also earn badges for their different reading accomplishments (reading a daily reading target, reviewing a book, etc). They really love it! It's completely free, by the way. Let me know what you think! And good luck with your son, you are bound to succeed, you seem very committed to the cause! :-)