Recently we suspended our regular learning routine for a week to try something a little different. We have a few children whose reading skills are in want of attention; we’ve a child who simply needs encouragement to blossom, another who can functionally read though not at age level and never for pleasure, another who teeters on the edge of being a reader and another as ‘keen as mustard’ yet doesn’t have all the skills needed. Upon reflection I realised that the majority of these situations could be addressed by time, time to focus simply on reading with no other distractions, which is exactly what we did, we put aside a week to focus on only reading and we reaped! Oh joy of joys, we reaped indeed 🙂

With a goal in mind I needed to decide upon a strategy, I needed to find a way to motivate our readers and keep them all focused on reading for an entire week. Previously a favourite, oft visited reading motivator for our family has been our traditional Bookworm (note to self, new photo desperately needed) wherein the whole family has banded together to support our newest reader, we hold a competition to see who can read the most books, result is the fledgling reader most often is soaring by competition end. This time I needed something a little different, more specific and ‘piecemeal’, a little googling for ideas and I discovered ‘reading challenges’ and ‘reading bingos’ and knew I’d found my solution. Whilst none of the printables quite suited I now had direction and was easily able to create our own ‘pick-a-read’ in Excel. I included challenges that covered reading locations, reading genre, various outfits to wear whilst reading, time slots to read within, various listeners to read to, fun activities like ‘record yourself reading’, a whole variety of options. On the back of the pick-a-boxes were blank boxes to correspond and colour as complete.

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Our children are rather literal and like to have any possible interpretations ‘nailed down’, so when presented with the sheet discussions ensued till all was negotiated and everyone was clear that each box represented 10 minutes of reading unless stated otherwise.  Individual prizes of their choice would be handed out at week’s end providing a certain percentage of boxes were complete as this was an individual competition. ‘Rules’ were understood and they were all set to begin.

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Then Anna Maria (23) and Princess (15) saw the sheets and were rather keen to join the fun, though A-M altered some of the pick-a-boxes to reflect the age difference/capability to make it more challenging.  Each of their squares represented a whole books, no shortcuts for them.  This love for reading fun, when the whole family wants to join in and not miss any action just makes my heart skip.

It was a wonderful week with some memorable moments that will always shine in my mind. The children were keen to begin immediately and did so even thought it was Sunday and not an ‘official learning day’. Bass (5 ) took the ‘read in red, read in blue’ to the extreme and wore complete outfits in said colour including underwear, he would read for ten minutes and then immediately changed to reclothe himself in the next colour and then swimmers. Jem (8) decided ‘reading under a tree’ wasn’t sufficiently challenging so read in the tree. I’ll always remember how our teetering reader read his way through all the Mercy Watson books! Seeing our reluctant reader lying in the hammock for hours reading the entire book of Mr Popper’s Penguins!! Watching another reader blossom and read for hours each day!  The intent was that we would read for five days, reality however is they ‘ran out of puff’ after four. Though I think, despite it being an individual competition a couple of the boys lost their momentum when it was extremely obvious that Jelly Bean (12) was blitzing her boxes. However Bass who is highly competitive and self motivated continued as long as he could, his glitch was that we ran out of reading material for his beginning ability.  Whilst the children who were the keenest and applied themselves with the most enthusiasm jumped their skill level exponentially, in fact all benefited greatly from our reading focus.

A week and a half later it’s obvious our week has left a legacy, our needing to blossom reader is reading all the time, our reluctant reader has actually been spotted reading on his bed throughout the day and before falling asleep of a night!!!! Out teetering reader will read any print throughout daily life without hesitation and our ‘keen as mustard’ is a little stronger in his reading skills and still keen. I’m thrilled and now contemplating something similar with maths and spelling 😉 If your child/ren reading is in want of attention, encouraging you to take a week off and devote time to just reading, you will certainly reap rewards 🙂