Parenting: 'Mom, I really CAN read!'

Thursday, March 17, 2011

This past September, I blogged about how I was starting to give my then 4-year-old son, Luke, reading lessons each afternoon.

I bought a book, Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. By about a month ago, we got through about 60 lessons and I was really proud of Luke. Although, as my husband pointed out, while Luke was learning to read some words, he was also learning how to listen to my verbal cues and guess many of the words in the lessons. Turns out, I was giving Luke a little too much help.

Ironically, the same week my husband told me I was holding Luke back by giving him too much help, Luke's teacher announced that he is now a member of the "reading club." Turns out, Luke was also getting one-on-one reading lessons at preschool. With a beginner reading book in his backpack, and a proud smile on his face, Luke declared, "Mom, I really CAN read!"

Turns out, reading books on your own is A LOT more fun than a reading lesson with mom. Granted, Luke's first book wasn't highbrow literature, with prose like: "Matt sat on a hat," but it was thrilling to see how excited Luke is now about reading.

Now, every day after lunch, Luke reads one of his reading club books aloud. We praise him, but don't bribe him for his reading efforts. Thom Barthelmess, president of the Association of Library Service to Children, cautions parents against promising rewards in exchange for reading. "Kids are smart and they're paying attention, and the message we want to give them is that reading is its own reward. When we offer a reward for reading, we show them that reading is what you do to get something really valuable, Barthelmess says.

Luke seems to get that reading IS valuable. He is excited that, in one way, he is closer to being a "big boy." Our 3-year-old daughter, Emma, has caught the reading bug as well. In her "reading lesson," we use wipe off flash cards with the alphabet. She recognizes each letter, says its sound, then traces it. While she is not yet ready for reading words, this is certainly a first step.

We've found reading lessons all over the house. Last night, Luke was determined to read the packaging of the tortilla crisps we like to put on our salads ("crunch toppings for salads.") Emma likes to recognize letters on the words on our shirts, so I've started wearing old running race shirts around the house. It may not be the most fashionable outfit, but it helps make reading fun.

Happy parenting! Cecily

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