I have a ton to say on the topic of reading and how we’re ruining it for our kids, but I’ll keep it short today with 3 huge reasons you should never set a timer when your kid reads.
Not even if his teacher tells him to.
Not even if she sends home a fancy Pinteresting production that after you look at it for fully 30 seconds, wading through all the fonts and chevron borders and is that glitter?, decide it must be a reading tracking table.
Not even if she gives out prizes for filling out that tracking table.
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Cultural Literacy for Kids
(Scroll down for 3 Reasons Not to Set a Timer When Your Kids Read.)
Today I’m guest posting at All Day Every Day Mom with the first post in my Disney Cultural Literacy series! Do your kids know that most of the rides and attractions in Disneyland were based on books? Yes, Disneyland rides like Peter Pan’s Flight and Pinocchio’s Daring Journey take you through the stories from the beloved Disney movies, but where did the inspiration for many Disney movies come from? Books!
How many have you read?
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3 Reasons Not to Set a Timer When Your Kids Read
Reading is not a chore.
- We set a timer when we put dinner in the oven or set the dryer cycle.
- We set alarms to go off so we wake up for work and to remind us that we need to leave the house to go to a doctor’s appointment.
- At work and at school, our (and our kids’) days are marked off by periods. I count down the minutes til I can take a coffee break. Our kids are methodically hustled from subject to subject to subject based on a schedule, regardless of progress made in any one subject (and regardless of common sense).
Every action I listed is a chore. That’s not to say all of them are bad; I rather like doing most chores, both at home and at work. Still, they’re jobs that have to be done.
If you set a timer for your kid to read, he knows that drill: he has to do something he doesn’t want to do for a set length of time, after which he either has to move to the next timed task he doesn’t want to do, or be set free to do what he wants to do.
2. Reading Should Not Be Quantified
What do we track, count, and report? Things That Aren’t Fun.
Your kid should run up to you and breathlessly shout, “I finished it!”, not demand, “Sign my form, Mom, I read for 20 minutes!” as he runs past you to grab his iPad for some real fun.
Book lovers only track books they read as a whole. You’ll never hear a book lover say he read 200 pages in a week, or reads for 20 minutes every day. Ever ever ever.
What should you do if your kid’s teacher wants him to track his reading in minutes (or pages)? I’d set her straight, but if you’re not one for confrontation, cook the books.
There’s no reason you have to set a timer when your kid reads just so you can sign off that he read for 20 minutes. Who is raising your kid—his teacher or you? Just fill out her stupid form (I’d put in ridiculous numbers just to see if she’s paying attention) and skip setting the alarm.
3. Alarms Make You Move!
- What do you do when you’re driving and hear an ambulance? You pull over.
- What do you do when you hear a fire alarm? You leave the building.
- What do you do when your alarm clock goes off? You
hit snooze until you have to leave the house with wet hairget out of bed.
We’re conditioned to move when we hear an alarm. It doesn’t matter if what we are doing the moment we hear the alarm is super fun or mind-numbing—we move.
The easiest way to kill the love of reading is to time it. If your kid sets a timer to go off after 20 minutes every time he sits down to read, he will read for 20 minutes every time he sits down to read. Books are divided by chapters, not by minutes.
The bottom line: Never wake a sleeping baby, and never interrupt a reading child.
Join in #DisneyReadsDay 2016! Share your #shelfie (a photo of you and your book or bookshelf) and tag #magicofstorytelling on Twitter or Instagram and First Book will route one of the 50 MILLION BOOKS that Disney has donated to First Book to a child who needs a book—up to 500,000 books!
How do you teach your kids to love reading?