Sunday, September 20, 2009

Good Incentive

Incentives for reading work with kids but they have to be sized and timed right. Up until last year, it was the AR tests at J's school - the bane of my life. The kids were reading a lot but not really expanding their horizons. Each book read and comprehended gave the child a certain number of point and they made a big fuss over the kids who scored the most. J stayed strictly within the comfort zone of her favorite genres. No amount of prodding from me was enough to make her take the leap of faith and venture into unknown territory. Books got rejected without a second thought let alone a good faith effort to try and like them.

This year they are trying something different. Kids will get small prizes if they read books from at least eight different genres and can talk about each book they read. Now J is on a mini-reading spree and is not saying no to anything. The magic number is eight and it takes her quite a distance from what she is most familiar and comfortable with. I like this a whole lot more than the AR tests.

As I consider the effectiveness of this strategy, I wondered why I did not try something similar at home. Chances are it would not have worked both for reasons for size and time. There is no competition at home which can be a huge damper on any incentive scheme. Then there is the matter of timing. She was probably not mature enough to go across eight different genres at less than eight years old.

At any rate I am glad to see my wish for her read what does not appeal to her immediately, stretch her mind and imagination in ways that they haven't been before, being fulfilled.

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