Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A word about environment

No, I am not on a new kick since moving to Austin - this isn't going to be about recycling - although we have a great Book Swap coming up at our neighborhood school that is a perfect way of getting new titles once your kids outgrow different ones you own already. (Although with me, for some reason I can't part with ANY!)

I had some thoughts on the environment in which your child is actually sitting down to read in. If your house is anything like mine, there is a lot of action going on...very distracting action, that is. The one year old, dinner, three separate homework sets, not to mention the host of electronic devices available in our home.

I thought about this when I went to sit down today to read my book. I am in the process of pulling wallpaper off in our kitchen, so I have the TV on as background noise (it's even on HG tv for motivation). When I sat down to read, the first thing I did was grab a cup of hot chocolate and my book. I chose the most comfortable chair in the room, and I hit the "off" button on the remote. Now was ready. My mind slowed down, the little one was napping. the room temperature was just right...

All those things are really important to teach kids. No, you don't have to readjust the thermostat every time they sit down to read, but my point is: They need to be comfortable, focused, and ready.

As I began to type this, I thought of my boys too. I thought about what the environment was like when they do their best reading.

First off, they all come home and run around for about 20 minutes, have a snack, and ALL electronics are off. I don't make dinner, or check email -- I am with them 100%. The baby even has a basket of things to keep him occupied and quiet (which doesn't work all the time, but he is getting the idea that it is "work time" and he can keep busy with his books and things too.

We normally tackle paperwork homework before our reading...

Matt, my 10 year old, is starting to be able to regulate himself and create the situation that is optimal for himself. He typically goes into our office. He also remembers to set the timer. Not that he wants to get it over with, but actually, he just doesn't want to worry about the time. He will, if interested enough, continue, but instead of coming and asking me every five minutes if his thirty minutes are up, he just relaxes, and knows that the timer will go off. I like that for him. He can keep his attention on the book.

Sam and Ben, the seven year olds, are more my job. I usually separate them. I take turns listening in as they read and ask questions. They are trickier. They are easily distracted.

This blog is great -- whenever I go to type something, it always comes back to something I need to do with my kids too.

My goal the next two weeks will be to enlist Ben and Sam to find "reading spots" for themselves. It can be anywhere...we have beanbags in their room, the couches, the floor -- I also have some smaller chairs they can cozy into.

Providing a good environment will not only help them enjoy the experience more, they will actually process more as well.

I will let you know how the reading spots are coming for the twins.

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