As an enthusiastic reader, I long to share my love affair with my students at home. While my daughter loves to read, my son struggles to even recognize the letters of the alphabet sometimes. Despite regular practice and a daily online Phonics class with his kindergarten teachers, he still struggles to differentiate between P and T, G and J and B and D. Yesterday, he read the word “can,” and two words later he stopped in frustration, unable to put the sounds together.
Our reading journey has been one struggle after the other. After countless tears from both the teacher and her son, I found a new approach.
Today, I hid two sight word flash cards around the house. I told him he could earn one M & M for each word he finds and reads to me. He couldn’t wait to find each word and earn his reward. Candy motivates my son. I know it’s not necessarily a healthy approach, but he responds to this motivational tool.
During my six years of homeschooling, I have heard of other moms finding innovative ways to motivate their children. A friend takes advantage of her son’s enthusiasm for outdoor exercise. She tapes several capital letters to one tree and the corresponding lower case letters to a second tree. Her son runs from tree to tree matching the letters.
Another home schooling mom teaches her daughter to read by accessing her daughter’s passion for color. With brightly colored markers, her daughter colors large bubble letters from a coloring book. As she colors, mom reads a story that reinforces the letter’s sound.
My son is not super interested in reading. He would rather be riding his bike, fixing bikes or playing cars. I’m hoping he learns many more words and becomes a confident and enthusiastic reader, thanks to the power of a tiny piece of chocolate.
If you happen to be the parent or teacher of a reluctant reader, I encourage you to persevere. Find what motivates your student and create a positive work environment. Read interesting stories to him or her. Smile often. Offer praise for each correct sound. Model a joy for printed words.
I welcome your success stories or reading struggles. What motivators work for your children? What tricks have you found for helping your reluctant reader find success? The journey is challenging for reluctant readers and their teachers. We can help them reach success when we practice patience and find effective motivators.