Sunday, March 14, 2010

Hooray! It's Spring Break...

And my kids have a whole week without school...

So, I plan. Yes, there will be time for vegetating on the couch, playing outside (a lot -- it's beautiful in Austin right now), and hanging with friends.

But there will also be reading.

Today they will sit down with me (after we go to Zilker Park for the Kite Festival) and make a goal. They will decide on a book they want to read, and then we will brainstorm some ideas on how we can meet the goal and finish the book too.

The goal doesn't need to be "to finish" or x amount of pages. It can be anything..."create a character trait web" "learn 5 new vocabulary words" "try a new genre" -- I want them to make it, though -- not me.

It is really important at my kids' ages to get to know themselves as readers and think about how they want to grow. That's deep.

I know that far too many kids (and teachers) are missing this point. They think that if a child is reading and comprehending on xyz level, that's the end of it.

Not in my book.

My goal as a literacy instructor, teacher, mom, and reader, is to teach children how to read, and to know what it means to be a reader. It doesn't just mean you can pick up a book, read the words, and answer questions about it. It means you are affected by books, you think about what they say, and you change as a person. It means you are in control of what you read, you have preferences, you have dislikes, you have ideas...and you have an active reading life.

So today we set goals. I will tell you what the kids chose and how we are going to go about our week...Nick and I are going to focus on a book this week. We are going to work with his Elmo shapes and colors book, and here's our plan. Each day, I will focus on a color -- and we will do lots with that color -- he will wear it, eat foods that color, use that color plates, color with that color crayon, use playdoh in that color, fingerpaint in that color -- get it? We will also focus on a shape, and we will find things all day that have that shape -- circles? Wheels on the car, bagels, elmo's eyes, the watch on my wrist...we will make it a point to focus on those things...then the next day, a new color and shape.

During the summers when the boys were little, I did a similar plan using the alphabet. We will do that again this summer. You can also use numbers -- be creative. Pick a book and run with the theme...

For example, if your child likes Fancy Nancy -- get glammed up like she does...color with glitter pens, all that good stuff. Another example, Magic Tree House...make a blanket fort and create a whole new adventure -- have them plan what to take and put it in a backpack -- find a book, think outside the norm.

I know, it is work. But no more work than breaking up a billion fights or dealing with "I'm Bored" because they don't have enough to keep their minds busy!

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