Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Darby Does It! - The Sweet Rewards of Learning to Read

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Teaching our sons to read has been one of the greatest pleasures, for me, as a homeschool parent. Each boy has learned at a different pace, some taking an interest in reading and accelerating faster than others, and that's okay with us, as long as they each just keep trying. Instilling in them a life-long passion and joy for great literature is a top homeschooling goal, and so far - thankfully - the older three love to read. The absence of video games and limits on television in the home have naturally helped discovering great books to become the leisure of choice.
Henry, however, is not so fond of school, and not so fond of reading.  Like most boys he would much rather be lassoing the table legs in the kitchen (or a human's legs, whichever is closer) with anything that resembles a rope, or trying to ride Rose, our wonderfully docile retriever, around the yard than pursuing academics. School-schmool.  I'm going to write to those Baby Einstein people and ask for a refund.

After months of applying various methods (begging, threatening and faking supreme disappointment are amongst my favorite) to get him to read, I finally gave in to incentives.

I really dislike incentives very, very much. Mostly because, in this case, I had to climb down off of my idealistic motivational, inspirational high horse and submit to the reality that Darby's just not buying into my joy of reading campaign speeches, and that sometimes dangling a prize, in this case a bag of sugar, in front of my son's nose is the only way to get him to march on.

Henry has quite a sweet tooth, and since I'm known as the sugar Nazi around here, promising anything sweet was one sure-fire way to motivate a child who's had to settle for raisins as a sub for candy his entire six years of life.
Sometime back in February, I promised Henry that he and I would walk to the local gas station, Country Acres, and he could pick out a snack and a drink IF he finished reading the first box of Bob Books.  I saw his eyes glaze over like frosting on donuts fresh from the oven.  And, that was all it took to get his reading wheels spinning!

Unfortunately, the wheels of progress were brought to a screeching halt when the Bob Books mysteriously went missing for about a month.  And, thanks to my bright idea to incentivize, he refused to read anything else. No Bobbo, no reado.  Uugh.  Miraculously, the little blue box reappeared and Henry zipped through all twelve books like lightening.
When the day came for us to make our trip to Country Acres, Henry was giddy with delight.  He went straight to the candy isle, where there were several teenagers who were tickled at the way Henry kept asking me what every little confection and candy bar was, what it tasted like.  "Will I like it?" he would ask innocently while holding up a giant box of Mike 'n Ike's for me to see.
After a couple of minutes of contemplating all of the options, his focus narrowed in on a huge package of sour gummy worms.  I agreed to buy them, but only if he promised to share them with his brothers (who would be thrilled to pieces after being doubly dessert deprived this Lent).
Just in case the bag of hyperactivity induction wasn't enough of a reward, I went ahead and threw a fountain drink on top of it (why not go from raisins to insanity in less than three minutes?).  Let me tell you, it might as well have been Christmas for this boy. The whole experience made me feel a bit like Santa in more ways than one - Oi, zee belly!!

His happy little grin and thankful heart were so endearing, I think I'll remember that afternoon for as long as I live.
Last night, in honor of the reoccurring cold temps, all of the boys found a spot around the fireplace and spent some time reading after supper.  I was so happy to see Henry right in there with his Dick and Jane book, sliding his little finger across the lines on the pages sounding out each word quietly to himself.  Every once in a while he would look up, with a twinkle of pride in his eyes, to see if anyone happened to notice that he was reading too. Such a sweet moment!!

1 comment:

  1. I love it!!! So glad that the incentive worked and hopefully Henry will love reading form this point on!!!
    And Dick & Jane books were the best!!!


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