Friday, January 28, 2011

My own Tiger Mom moment

I want to Talia to love reading as much as I do. I was an early reader, so it killed me that Talia was not reading books by kindergarten. I tried not to push her. I believe intellectually that play-based learning is superior to book learning in preschool and kindergarten but in my heart I still wonder. I tried sitting down with her and making reading fun. I gave no judgement and just tried to make it special time with mommy. I offered tons of praise. I bought pretty bookmarks and a book timer. I took her to the bookstore and let her pick out her own books. Every week I go to the library and take about 60 kids' books. We read tons to the kids each night (which they love love love), we fill our home with books, we model reading ourselves and talk about the joy of it. And, eventually, she got it. By the beginning of first grade she was reading reliably and now, in the middle of first grade she can read almost anything with little or no help.

BUT. She doesn't really want to.

And why would she? We have TV, DVD, Netflix on Demand, iPod, iPad, computer, and art closet that rivals any preschool, ballet, swimming, skiing, gymnastics, playing with friends, a million toys and a billion other entertainments and distractions. If it wasn't something I could do in my bed I wonder how much I would be reading too.

Talia doesn't mind reading if it's only for a little while. She will sometimes read eagerly but not for very long. And she likes to read books that she can finish in one sitting. We have tons of easy readers and picture books. I might have to twist her arm a little bit to get started but she's definitely gotten into the habit of reading at least one book for pleasure each night. The problem is... I want her to WANT to read. I want her to see it as an answer to her own question, "What can I DO???" I want her to WANT to snuggle in her bed and open a book and get lost in it. I want her to read chapter books so that she CAN get lost in them.

So finally, I made her. This was my Tiger Mom moment. I am the ever-praising, super-patient, non-pushy, non-disciplining, "find your own path sweetheart" kind of parent that everyone refers to. This time I just put my foot down and told her she had to read one chapter with me every day. "But I don't WANT to!" "But you can't MAKE me!" "Why do I HAVE to?" Because I said so. And because you will not watch tv, play with an iPad, or have a playdate until you do. In the amount of time that you have been arguing with me about this you could be done already. There was crying and kicking and fighting. I did my part in choosing a book that would be really fun for her (Something about a first grade group of girls who decide to have a princess club in school). I also made sure that it was time for us together. Just the two of us. I let her snuggle up all over me and gave her my full attention.

The first day she scowled the whole time and didn't sit with me and read to herself. The second day we went through the whole fight again. "But you can't actually MAKE a person do ANYTHING!" Actually I can, and I will. But she sat with me on the couch and read to herself and I kissed her head and was very very affectionate. The third day she said, "We can go read my book now, if you want..." and she read aloud to me. Then she told me that she kind of likes the book and maybe wants to start the next chapter. Then yesterday she told me she read a chapter to Alex in her bed in the morning. Last night we couldn't find the book and she was quite disappointed. This morning we found it and she jumped for joy and settled herself on the steps and started reading. She brought it to school and asked her teacher if she could read it during reading time in class. I KNEW that if she just TRIED it, she would like it.

Mission accomplished.
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Chris said...

Way to go Mom!!

Nan said...

go tiger mommy! as long as you don't rip up the birthday cards she makes for you...haha! i love reading your blog posts, nik. so funny and sweet.