Home reading; a valuable part of the school reading program, no doubt.
I wholeheartedly support the school in their endeavour to make books come alive and to foster the love of reading, never mind the important skill of being able to read for comprehension, no matter what job you intend to do in the future.
Ever since they were babies I have been reading to my children and I truly love those quiet, cozy moments in the evening. We tuck ourselves under a blanket and for once, they sit still and it’s a little slice of heaven.
But when it’s time to fill out the home reading calendar…that’s a little slice of something else.
Same books, different boys
I can’t say enough about the wonderful teachers who put so much effort into their classrooms. Who could do it better? Certainly not me which is why I pay the big bucks to send them off to ACS every day. And I think my words carry some clout because I used to be a teacher myself, waaay back in the day. I know what’s involved and thus far, I’ve had no desire to go back.
No, I’m content to trust the capable teachers at my kids’ school to guide my boys down the path of enlightenment. It’s not as if I’m washing my hands of it all; I’m willing to put in my time to support their learning.
Here I am, 13 years later, still sitting on the couch, reading books to Owen and Levi.
Not much has changed actually, other than the couch and quilt being a newer model while the mom is definitely an older, more worn-out model. I’m still reading the same Beverly Cleary books about a mouse and a motorcycle that I read all those years ago to Caleb and then Drew and then Aiden.
Though reading to my children was never a chore, getting them to read on their own…that’s a different story.
Rebels at Heart
I shouldn’t lump them all together; Drew and Aiden couldn’t wait to dive into a book and were very motivated to read, but Caleb and Owen, no matter how much I fostered the love of books and no matter how much they loved listening to a good story, would be content never to pick up a book again unless they were using it make a ramp for their Hot Wheels cars.
Whether they loved reading or not, somehow knowing that the required 15 minutes a day had to be marked down on that photocopied calendar, put rebellion into the heart of every one of them.
When Aiden finds a good book, he might not surface for an hour or two, and will easily exceed the required minutes per day, so why then is filling out that home reading calendar the bane of my existence?! Somehow adding up and recording the minutes seems to steal the joy for him. It certainly sucks some of my joy when I’m badgering him each week to mark it down so he can hand it in.
And then there is Owen. He’s finally at the point where he can read to himself and set a timer but the second that timer goes off,the book slams shut, he rockets out of the chair and he’s off to find Levi for some Lego time. And no matter where I hang that calendar, on the fridge or taped to the wall, unless it’s stapled to my forehead, by the time the end of the month rolls around, I’m left staring at a blank home reading calendar.
Which finally led me to realize the reason the Brandsma family hates home reading the way we do; it’s because it makes liars of us all.
There I sit, knowing my child read, but having no clue which days or for how long, so I fudge it. If I’m going to fudge it, it has to look believable so I’ve been reduced to the shameful practice of grabbing three or four different coloured pens and initialling a random number of days and then passing it off to my children to hand in. And it’s been going on for years. (They say confession is therapeutic, so why don’t I feel better yet?)
I had planned to take my shameful secret to the grave until this year when Owen’s teacher decided to throw a monkey wrench into my system. The new calendar includes a space for the title of every book they read to be recorded as well. There’s only so much fudging I can do!
And so I decided to put an end to my deceptive ways.
I’ve retired my green, red and blue pens and I now write in bold letters across the calendar, “Please accept my apologies for not filling this in properly, but be assured that my child read at least 15 minutes, 5 days a week. Sincerely, Krista.”
Levi is in kindergarten. We’ve got many years of home reading ahead of us. I might as well apologize now to Levi’s future teachers. Or I can hope for the best, reform my old ways and turn over a new leaf.
Now if only I could figure out where we left that blasted home reading calendar.