The following is a post from contributing writer Stef.
To reward reading or not to reward reading … that is the homeschool mom’s question.
My favorite (public) school teacher was my 3rd grade teacher. She read The Chronicles of Narnia series to us the entire year. We all gathered on overstuffed pillows at the foot of her rocking chair. This teacher also rewarded students at the end-of-the-year with a brown lunch bag full of giant gumballs for each book read.
I’ve loved reading since 3rd grade. Rewarded or not, I couldn’t check out books from the school library fast enough. I want my children to have this same appetite for great stories.
My son was introduced to the Pizza Hut Book It Rewards (they include homeschoolers). It was tons of fun for all of us, but the program only lasts a few months. It’s no surprise that his desire to read slowly died when we stopped hitting the library as often for personal pan pizzas.
I decided to offer our own way to reward reading (unassigned reading from the curriculum).
For every 5 chapter books completed the boy can spend an hour at the Lego Creation Center (it’s free).
The most important part of your children’s desire to read falls on the parents. While we do reward reading, we also read ourselves! If we’re not setting the example, why would our kids want to read? We can “bribe” them to read but it will never last. If we plop down and rely on the television to entertain us (or them), reading will not be of any interest. If we only expect our children to read during homeschool time, they’ll turn that off after school. If we’re not making books available in the house, they won’t read.
I had to schedule the library on our calendar to make sure we got there. We found an age appropriate series to read together. We watched one Harry Potter movie for my son to shout, “Books are so much better!” Now my son reads for pleasure in his room or in the car.
Reading Reward Ideas
- Time – Spend quality time together. Go on a “date” or out for special dessert. Just you and the reader.
- Small item – Grab a small Lego kit, book, or art supplies as a reward for a certain number of books completed. (Set the number of books first.)
- Tech time – Offer 30 or 60 minutes of computer, Wii, or other electronic time — without siblings.
- No homework – Lighten a Friday of school work, but do not rush to make-up Monday.
- Redbox rental - It’s only $1 to rent from Redbox. Throw in some popcorn for fun.
- Something special – Think of something creative and fun! Let them do school in their pajamas, choose their lunch, have a play date, eat breakfast for dinner, etc.
- Join a Club – Join an online reading club like The Magic Tree House! Earn passport stamps and play games as a reward.
Be sure to keep a record of the books your children read. It’s great for your end-of-the-year homeschool portfolio/evaluation.
Want to include everyone? Read my tips: Make Reading a Family Thing.