Thursday, December 12, 2013

Reading Alsey style

So, some of you know that part of my current job is teaching a pre-literacy class for parents and children ages 3-5, but often the ages are really 18 months-4. 
I spend a lot of my time and energy thinking about the reading process. 

Disclaimer: I am not an expert. I am not a reading specialist, or in any way a mama claiming to have it all figured out. Because I don't...and I won't no matter how hard I might try.

With that said, we are a pretty read-y family. 
Yes, I just said read-y. 
Yes, I know it's not really a word. 
See I told you I don't have it all figured out. 
Stay with me here. 

Studies say that you should read to your child(ren) a minimum of 20 minutes per day. 
Every day.
Some days that's harder than others. 
Do we have a perfect track record here?
Oh, sorry, please excuse me for a minute while I wipe up the wine that just shot out of my nose.
What I meant to say was: no we do not have a perfect track record.
However, we do a pretty good job of getting it in most days. 
And it's meaningful.
And here's why.

1. We have kid books everywhere. 

Stored in at least 5 of our 6 rooms.  
Bathroom. Check.
Kitchen. Check.
Dining room. Check. Check. 
Kid's room. Check.
Living room. Check. Check. Check.
Master bedroom. Nope.

I also mentioned that the reading is usually meaningful. 

2. I thoughtfully rotate the books for their locations and situations. 
Example: Dean and Viv are working on sharing. So magically books about friendship and sharing appear on our dining room table. 
The holiday season is upon us so Christmas and winter books have a special location.
In a nod to my former elementary teaching days, I spend approximately half an hour on one evening sorting our books and rotating the locations. That thoughtful half an hour saves me from having to be thoughtful for weeks on end. Sometimes months even. 
Our current system- get your pen ready because it's a tricky one!: 

Bathroom: books I don't mind if they get splashed on
Kitchen: books that have a great story to listen to while eating 
Dining room table: topical in nature, current books about sharing/friendship
Dining room shelves: books about Bible stories/Bible
Living room bin: interactive books/board books
Living room bin: winter/Christmas books
Living room coffee table: Bibles
Kid's room: lovely books that aren't out of the bedroom storage location

 Told ya it wasn't a hard system. As basic as it is, it really makes our family reading time function smoother. 

3. I turn off the television.
Actually we don't have a plugged in television set.
We do have a laptop with Amazon Prime membership where we can select shows of our choosing.
Some of our reading is done during naturally non-tv times like bath and dinner.
Those are sneaky times to insert a good book.
Or just a book you don't mind if it gets splashed on (aka not your favorites).
It's good to find a rhythm that works for your family. A flow. 
Other times, I have to purposefully unplug to make time for reading. 
Oh, and I always include it on my list of things for the kids to do. 
"You could go play cars, build a train, read a story, bake in your kitchen..."

4. Make it part of your routine. 
Yes, I alluded to this in #3, but it's worth digging into this a little deeper. 
We watch Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. 
It's a cartoon that I like.
It has jingles with each episode to help you learn the concept.
From potty training to sharing and everything in between. 
I recommend the show. 
And, no I'm not getting paid to endorse it...the lovely folks at PBS do not know who I am.
Talk about a tangent. 
Daniel has a Good Morning show with a morning routine. 
The jingle goes: Clothes on, eat breakfast, brush teeth, put on shoes then off to school.
We changed it to say 
Clothes on, read the Bible, brush teeth, put on shoes then off to school. 
Yes, the kids eat, but not at school. 
We do however, make time (most) mornings for a Bible story before heading out. 
Making it a part of the routine makes it happen for us.
It's our family rhythm.

Leaving it to chance is like hoping the dishes will magically wash themselves.
So far they haven't, but I'm holding out hope. 

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