Written by Carolyn Leiloglou of House Full of Bookworms
I caught my son trying to read during “school” time this morning.
I was SO excited!
My son hasn’t been a big reader. Sure, he’ll read things for school if I ask him to without complaining (thankfully).
And he’ll pick up most of the picture books, fact books, or graphic novels I bring home from the library without any prodding. But getting him to read a middle-grade novel just for fun?
Not so much.
Which is why I was thrilled to see him trying to sneak a chapter during the end of science.
It got me thinking about my own experiences with books in school.
When I was in middle school, many of my teachers had shelves of books we could read in our free time, like when we finished a test early.
Can you guess who was the first person to finish every test?
Forget about double-checking my answers. There was a shelf of books that needed to be read. By me.
On the other hand I also remember Mrs. Gorf’s (yes, that’s a reference to Sideways Stories from Wayside School) fifth-grade English class. A rather stern teacher, she intimidated everyone.
You didn’t want to get in trouble in her class. So, of course, that was the class where I got “caught” reading.
A generally obedient child, I didn’t like having attention called to myself (I wouldn’t even raise my hand in class). Getting caught disobeying was mortifying.
I never read in class again. But I can guarantee I was getting more out of The Tower of Geburah than learning how to diagram a sentence.
That’s why I was so excited to see my son sneaking in a few paragraphs of The Secret of the Swamp King during our class time.
I’m guessing he gleaned more from it than listening to his sister narrate the science lesson. And I let him be.
So what lessons can I learn from my own experiences of reading in school that I can apply to my homeschool?
1. Leave books in conspicuous places, like candy for the taking.
I can still remember how tantalizing my teacher’s bookshelf was for me.
Now, as homeschooling moms, we might be tempted to fill a shelf of classic literature and hope our kids will fall for it. They might. But instead, let’s also put out books we believe they will love.
I do this with my kids’ Kindles. I load all kinds of things I think they will like (classics included).
I don’t point them out or make them read it, but when they discover a gem, I hear about it.
2. Leave time for boredom.
When I finished my math test early, my teacher didn’t assign me extra work.
Don’t overschedule. Many of us homeschool for this very reason. But, I admit, it’s still difficult to leave time for boredom. There is always more work I could assign, chores I need help with, errands we could run, or one more activity.
Resist the urge, and leave space for the quiet that breeds thought and creativity. For you and your kids.
3. Never shame a child for reading.
Ok, this seems obvious, but it’s an easier trap to fall into than you think. At least for me.
Sometimes I’m dissatisfied with what my children are reading. I’m not talking about inappropriate books — I’m talking about books I might consider candy and carbs instead of meat and veggies: graphic novels, below level readers, never-ending, churned-out series.
But be careful not to squelch the love of reading by being over critical of your child’s choices. I know I need that reminder.
So the next time you see your kids reading when they “shouldn’t be,” think about the books that impacted you.
And be grateful for a child who loves to read.
Did you ever get “caught” reading as a child? What books hooked you?