Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Making time to read when you don't seem to have it, and the kids would rather do other things

I had a little "Oops" moment this morning when I was helping pack my son Ben's backpack for school. I was making sure he had his lunch, his library books (it's library day or his class), when it dawned on me that he hadn't read his 15 minutes last night. My mind raced through a million excuses...the dishwasher repairman was here late, my husband and I attended his office party last night, etc...etc...

But there I was, bummed at myself for letting that important time slip through the cracks.

There are always things that take up our time -- especially during the holidays -- but we need to be diligent and communicate both verbally and through our actions that reading time is sacred...and not to be overlooked.

I'm family and I just moved to Austin three weeks ago, and our schedules, schools, surroundings -- everything is different. Which means the routines we had before may not work for us now. Three weeks ago, I was teaching, so the boys would immediately come to my classroom and do homework/read until I was ready to go. They didn't have neighbor boys around, the one year old was still in preschool, so that was uninterrupted time. They finished up so that as soon as we arrived home, they knew they had free time.

Now we come home, and I try to get everyone a snack and focused, but sometimes, I admit, it is chaotic. That's hardly my favorite time to have them read...

SO, what do I do? How can I "steal" moments in the day to read?

I have thought of a couple ideas, and maybe you can use one/share one of your own!
  • We always have books in the car, so instead of turning on the VCR, I have them read as we are going to practice, running errands, etc.
  • Another strategy is actually one that limits something that interferes: TV. I have TV tickets. They can earn them by getting their work done, by getting along, by focusing...and lose them as a consequence of not. Tickets are worth 15 minutes of TV time. They can pool them for a longer show, or just decide which show they are going to watch on their own tickets. It takes me out of the "bad guy" mode and makes it very objective. Homework done, tickets = TV/video games. If they don't and don't have tickets, oh well.
  • Something else has more to do with me, than them. I need to put my errands, etc. on the back burner until they are completely done with homework. I also need to be firm in saying no to playdates, even if they are at the door...we will come out when we're done.
  • I am also taking this time to read with Nick so the one year old isn't taking this opportunity to color on their papers, rip their books, or just basically distract.
  • Put on a particular music. I keep it low, upbeat, and not necessarily Radio Disney. It's just something that signals it is work time, and it is another one of those "mind pegs" that internally trigger their minds to focus on the work since that is what they do to that music every day.
  • Don't answer the phone. They will call back.
  • Pull out books early. Maybe do some reading to them while they are eating their snack.
  • Work in one area. Don't spread out to too many rooms so you are running to try and get to different children.
  • Type up a special reading chart or list and put it in a predominent area. Let them choose to write in pens, glitter glue, or put stickers...make it appealing to them.

Those are a few things I am going to try. Some may work, and if not, I will revise my strategies to see what fits. And I promise Mrs. Watson, Ben won't miss out on reading tonight.

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