Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Ready to read

Inspired by Shawni Eyre at 71 Toes, I wanted to make this summer a time for reading.  It's a bit of an ambitious plan for us, since as of day one of summer, I actually didn't have any kids who could read.

Or so I thought.

My mom spent many years as a primary school teacher and always lamented that it took at least 6-8 weeks in September/October to get the kids back to where they were at the end of June.  That's how much they forget over the summer holidays.  But one of the best ways to combat that is to have them reading.  So I set out to encourage the kids to spend time with books.

My first goal was to get Colin reading some very basic English books.  Because the kids attend a Francophone school, there is no exposure to English at all.  (I'm totally fine with this, because they get lots of English exposure at home, and their French is fantastic already, even after only a year in junior kindergarten.)

As it turns out, Colin already knows how to read.  How typically Colin.

I don't know how or where he learned, but when I sat down with an easy reader to introduce him to sounding out English words phonetically, he took the book from me and read it from first page to last.  He only needed help with words that contained silent letters.  Then he picked up a second book and read it.  And so on, and so on.

I then devised a program to help them want to read all summer.  It's the old stand-by sticker chart, but by George is it working miracles!  They each designed a chart with 100 squares on it.  For each book someone reads to them, they get one sticker.  For each book they read to someone else, they get two stickers.  For each 10 books they read, they get a small chocolate.  If they reach 100, they get a bigger prize, TBD, but something like a night at the movies with mom or dad, or dinner out at a place of their choosing.  (The grand prize will be in the $20 range.)

I was worried at first they might not make 100 - after all there aren't that many days in the summer vacation.  But the incentive program worked better than I could have imagined - on day one, Colin got 14 stickers, and Caleb got 7 (I didn't have books Caleb could read yet, so he couldn't get as many as Colin, who chooses almost never to listen to a book being read, since reading it himself gets more stickers!)

Today we went by the library to check out books (they chose more than 25!)  I grabbed a bunch of French easy readers to help them keep up the French also.  Our plan is to hit the library at least once a week, to change up the books.  While we have hundreds of books at home, we've read them all many times, so it's nice to get something new.

We're only 3 days into summer vacation, and this goal setting is really working for us!  Now to implement a couple other things...

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