Finally, it is here. This blog is about three weeks late. I hope the quality of material will make up for the lost time. I also want to welcome my new Facebook and Twitter followers. Shockingly, my little blog has been viewed in 8 different countries. I hope I have written something that has made a difference. I also want to thank people who have shared this blog on Facebook and Twitter. The tabs are on the right hand side of the page for those who would like to do this. Thank you for your support!
On November 8th, I wrote an important blog that was called Reading Between the Lines. When you have a chance, take a look at it again because it contained the details of what I did to help Cameron skyrocket his reading. The blog today takes a more detailed look; but here were the three basic points.
1. I used a library consistently.
2. I subscribed to a newspaper.
3. I strategically placed books in my home.
Today, I want to go into some more specific details of what I did and my mindset. Although I am going to refer to Cameron in this blog; the same strategies are being used with my three year old Luke. The difference is Cameron's reading and math have already tested in the top 1% in the country in his age group. It's not fair for me to refer to Luke until he is old enough to be tested.
The first thing you need to know is all of my strategies were done purposefully. As a former teacher, I always set up my classroom before the kids walked in. As a stay at home dad, it's kind of the same mind set. The hard part is coming up with the plan. Implementing it is pretty easy. There may be reasons you won't think my reading strategies will work in your home. I challenge you though to think of why they might.
1. Cameron's bedroom is one of the real keys to his reading success. The reason is he has four things in it- a bed, a dresser, some stuffed animals, and a shelf full of books. The bedroom is a place for rest in my mind. It's the place in the house a child should always be able to really relax with their thoughts. TV's, video games, and toys distract the relaxation I am looking for. Cameron has plenty of toys; but they are in the playroom.
Cameron, like most kids, doesn't always want to go to bed immediately at bedtime. This is what the books are for. During the summer and on weekends, he doesn't have to go to sleep. He can read until he passes out for all I care. Admittedly, there have been nights Cameron has been up later than I'd like. On most nights though, he reads for a few minutes and goes to sleep on his own. Not only do we not have bedtime problems; we are actually allowing him to practice a vital skill. In his mind, he thinks he is getting away with something when he reads and stays up a bit later. In my mind, it was planned all along.
2. I learned his interests and brought books into my home based on them. Cameron has always had a fascination with garbage trucks. What kind of books do you think periodically pop up in our home? You probably guessed it- books on garbage trucks. I read to him and sometimes he would read them to me. If he wants quality reading time with me, he can always have it. I've bought garbage truck books and I've checked out plenty from the library. The point is I had him reading interesting things to foster more reading.
Now that he is good at reading, he likes doing it alone. This is a key point. Kids don't want to read by themselves until they have the confidence TOOOOOOOO read by themselves. My general mindset on this point is I want reading to be fun and as easy as possible. As long as I am providing interesting material and my time( if he chooses), I can accomplish these goals.
3. I realize from my teaching days that reading and decoding are two different things. Decoding means you can say words from a page. Reading is not only saying these words; but "knowing what the heck you are talking about." I actually told this to elementary kids in my classroom every year. It may have not been the most professional way of saying it; but I got the message across. When Cameron reads to me, I like to ask probing questions on what he just read. I don't do it all the time because a kid should sometimes read just for fun and fluency (reading as clearly as you talk). Regardless, it's fun to do at times and a parent can quickly determine whether the reading material is too hard.
No matter which strategies you choose or whether you have other ones; the important thing is that a reading culture is created. Once that culture is in full gear, good results will follow.
Finally, my shameless plug. Please pass this blog along to those who would like their children's reading skills to improve. It would be very appreciated.
All the best and I hope to see you back Wednesday for my behavior blog.