reading is fun

I enjoy reading in many forms: from a book, a magazine, a blog, or audio book… it doesn’t matter how I’m doing it, but that I’m doing it that’s important.

No matter how many years I’ve taught, what grade I’m teaching, what school I’m at, or what country I’m in, there is always a debate about the reading log. So why are so many teachers/schools/districts pushing “The Reading Log”?

As a parent and teacher, I’ve tried an array of reading logs: monthly minutes, daily reading, parent signature required, comprehension questions, pages read, reading journals, charts, calendars, author/title, weekly recording sheets, rewards, sticker charts… you name it, I’ve probably seen it, tried it, and/or required my students to complete it.

As a teacher, I printed them, sent them home for homework, and marked responses with stickers and smiley faces because that’s what the school required.

As a parent, I loathed the nagging required to get my children to complete the reading tasks set forth by their teacher. Ugh.

But as I sit at my dining room table typing up this blog, I look at the couch where both of my teens are reading and think to myself, “I did all right!” My daughter is nose-deep in the latest of a series of YA fiction suggested to her by the school librarian and my son is on his laptop reading the blog of a YouTuber he admires.

But they are not logging a gosh darn thing!

Without reading logs, my children are more avid, excited, and enthusiastic about reading. So how do you get around the parental torture of a reading log? Here’s my teacher pro-tip: let the kids read what they WANT to read. 

  • If they like to cook, then have them read a recipe while you two make dinner together.
  • A fan of comics and comic books? Grab a magazine or subscribe to an online newspaper and discuss the real-world satire the comic is commenting on.
  • If you live far away from family and friends, get your parents or in-laws to write regular emails to your child which they can respond to. This idea helps kill two birds with one stone as you also get your children to practice writing too!
  • Tap in to their interest by finding a blog they can follow: like LEGOs, outer space, or animal rescue.

If your child’s teacher sends home the dreaded log, I’m sorry to say, you won’t be able to avoid the torture of tracking minutes or signing a sheet to say you saw your kid reading. But you will help build the habit of reading. And that is more important than anything.

Some alternative ways to complete reading log goals:

  • blogs
  • recipes
  • letters/emails
  • newspaper/magazines
  • directions
  • maps
  • audio books
  • home language books

Ultimately, the most important thing we parents and teachers can do is read by example. We can’t expect our kids to do something we are not willing to do ourselves. So, grab a novel, download an audio book, join a Book Club, open a magazine, or cuddle with the kids on the couch–it doesn’t matter how you’re doing it just that you’re doing it.

Angela

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homework hell

homework

This image by lourdesnique is licensed under Creative Commons CC0 from Pixabay.

You woke up early, made a wholesome breakfast, organized the Pinterest-inspired first day of school photos, and loaded your kids up with their dream back pack, and freshly sharpened pencils. You don’t know how you did it, but you got your crew in the car and to school on time. Once you kiss them all and send them off you realize there was one thing you have forgotten in this otherwise perfect day:

Tonight. Begins. The. Homework. Saga.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

For so many parents, memories about our educational experience include homework: writing or diagraming sentences, math problems, spelling lists, and reading comprehension questions. And even though we despise the practice of having our kids do homework, one of the first things teachers are asked during Back to School Night is, “Can you explain your homework policy?”

Ugh.

Most teachers hate to give homework. Even more teacher hate to receive homework. And many teachers are happy to do away with the practice all together.

So why are our kids still doing homework?

The simplest answer is–many schools maintain a homework policy to keep the parents happy. Despite the deep-hidden angst about homework, some parents push their feelings aside in lieu of homework’s “rewards: naturally setting boundaries, helping students practice learned skills, building study habits, and (let’s be honest… these are our favorite excuses nowadays) homework keeps kids off devices or away from bickering with siblings.

But the truth is our children can still achieve all of those goals without homework. Jessica Smock wrote about the 31 Things Your Kids Should Do Instead of Homework and I think today’s teachers should send that home as a weekly to-do list rather than a spelling list.

Though the homework debate is sure to continue well in to my retirement, I urge you to advocate for your child’s body and mind. Just like this teacher urged, spend your children’s “homework time” doing something more meaningful like: playing outside, cooking together, or learning about something you’re passionate about… their minds, their body, and your sanity will thank me later.

Angela