Towards the end of 2016 my husband and I spent some time discussing and reviewing the amount of time our children were spending on screen time.
Overall we have maintained boundaries around their screen time that we firmly believe in. With simples things like these…
-No electronics after 8pm.
-No phones or electronics in their bedrooms they must be used downstairs out in the open.
-No using phones or electronics on the morning on the way to school.
However even with our boundaries in place we were feeling that with all time they were spending with these devices they could be putting a little more into reading. (Ok so they could be putting A LOT more into reading 🤦🏼♀️)
None of our older thee children, Joshua 14, Tyler 12 and Emily 12 are super avid readers. They each have gone through phases when they read for pleasure here and there but overall it is not their favorite leisure activity to do. They have the same habit their parents have to pick out lots of books and start many but finish few books. So we explored some ways we could help get them reading more regularly some really great books.
We discussed all the different ways we could come up with and implement an enforced reading plan. This is the simple plan that we came up with for each one of our older three children for 2017.
An ENFORCED READING CHALLEGE each child will be;
-Assigned and required to read one book that was chosen by a parent each month.
-After completing their book they were required to answer some simple questions about the book in writing, I had some worksheets I made for them.
-Required to keep a log of the books they read and how many pages were in each book.
To try and make things fun and a little competitive we put a challenge on it. We told them they could read above what we assigned with parent approved books and the child who read the most books would win a prize and the child who read the most pages would win a prize. Of course our reading choices were carefully selected to make sure they were reading good books. This was done on top of what assigned reading they had in school and reading they wanted to do on their own.
At first they grumbled and complained…but they did it. We were mean parents but our children were reading some great books!
It seemed after a few months in they were even starting to enjoy some of the books. Some of the books were faith based, some were nonfiction, some were fiction. We even through in some of the books we had to read as a child like ‘Where the red fern grows.’ Some of the months they were challenged more than others. Emily did note on several occasions she felt this reading at home was helping her at school with her reading comprehension. Hopefully it helped the other two as well!
Of course this meant work on our part as parents, following through with it. Taking the time to select books each month and keep up with them and make sure they were actually reading. We did let the month of September go by as a free month as they got back into school routine that month.
We sat down one night last week at dinner and pulled out all their reading logs and the questions they answered on the books they read over 2017. Talked about their favorite books and least favorite. Added up totals to find the winners of the most read and the most pages read. Talked about what a successful year of reading they had and how awesome they felt for accomplishing this challenge. And then came the reward…my husband and I told them that since they did such a great job we would find a weekend before the end of winter and take just the three of them to Great Wolf Lodge for some play and fun! This is a huge treat for them and they are super excited and looking forward to this. Our 6 year old who was not part of 2017 reading sat in on our reading discussion and got to see what all the fuss was about. He will be jumping into our new and improved 2018 ENFORCED READING CHALLENGE. Now he is excited too!
And of course the OCD nature in me has neatly filed away all the reading logs and questions so next year we can pull them out and compare and see how they have grown in their reading and writing.
We are super pleased with the way this reading challenge progressed however we have learned along the way and have made some adjustments to our plan as we take on 2018.
—–>First: we are adding a book of the bible to be assigned each month as well as their assigned book. January they are reading 1Timothy. We the parents of course will be reading the books of the bible as well. Last year I did read some of the books before giving them to the kids to make sure they would be appropriate and beneficial.
—->Second: Richard is joining the reading challenge this year so since he is an early reader as a 1st grader he will have some help especially the first few months as he gets the hang of this and his comprehension questions are scaled down to his level.
—->Last: When the 1st of the month rolls around if their reading from the prior month is not done they will lose all electronics and phones until it is complete. I think after once or twice this will help encourage them to be more aware of having their reading and questions done on time which was a challenge last year we saw. Hopefully this year they can be completing each month without being reminded.
As in most parenting moments this has been a learning experience for us this past year as well. As a result I myself have increased the number of books I read and have been reading a wider variety—->Mom win!!!
I know felt super accomplished that we followed through and stuck this out even through all the grumbling and complaining. Even when it was extra work to keep up with during busier seasons.
I do believe the kids and the parents in our home are pleased with the outcome of this 2017 ENFORCED READING CHALLENGE.
Sometimes the parenting successes feel few and far between but this was a big success for us and I am excited to see how the children and parents in our home grow with our 2018 reading!
PS——>We are open to books suggestions for 2018!