Thursday, April 03, 2008

Say What?

Sweet Pea started a new reading program at school at the beginning of January. For the first time her teacher tested every student and then assigned them a letter. I'm not sure what the significance of the letter is but I know that she's in the highest level in her class. I'm not saying this to brag (although I am pretty proud of her). I'm saying this because tonight, while I was wading through about fifty emails, I was listening to her read in the other room with Zilla. Now mind you, I was listening with half an ear. Until I heard her sounding out astrophysicist. Seriously!?! She's six. Crap, I had to rely on spell check just to spell the word correctly. I have trouble pronouncing it. Do they really expect a six year old to know that word? Or be able to sound it out?

The books themselves are...interesting. We've had a couple about bunnies, one on Mount Rushmore and the latest on Sally Ride the first female astronaut (hence the astrophysicist). Yes, she's learning some new words and increasing her reading ability. But the books she's bringing home just aren't all that fun or interesting. She loves to read. She reads all the time. Books she prefers to the one she's forced to read each night for this new program. She's just learning this skill and really enjoying it. Do we really have to kill her enthusiasm by giving her assigned reading that's boring? Isn't freshman English time enough for that?

I know there are kids in her class that are struggling. Those same kids are probably the ones that don't read at home on a regular basis already. But we do. Perhaps I'm missing the point of the exercise (which is entirely possible) but really, is there anything wrong with wanting to choose the books we read at this stage in the game?

P.S. We love Sweet Pea's teacher! I really don't think this is a reflection on her. I think it's probably more about the program we're using which isn't her fault.


Smarty Pants said...

SP may end up like me. By 5th grade, I was doing book reports on Harlequin novels and Stephen King books while the rest of the class was reading Tom Sawyer. If you have to, promise her time to read fun stuff if she can make it through the boring stuff...

Jen said...

I think that's crazy. At that age it should all be "free" reading.

Angel said...

This is the number one complaint I've heard from teachers about the AR reading program that's such a big part of our school. They feel the kids should be able to choose books that interest them, whether or not they are within their "level". Luckily, Drama Queen has been able to find books she likes (unfortunately for me, they were all about states). But we read a lot of "extra" stuff. Right now she's devouring those Magic Treehouse books. I'm gonna have to buy more of those.


Liza said...

When my oldest niece was in 2nd grade her reading program required her to read 30 minutes a night every night. She got to the point that she would not even look at a book. Her parents started reading with her for the 30 minutes. It was 2 years before she would even read a book for pleasure again(thank you JK Rowling). She now reads every chance she gets.

Problem Child said...

AC isn't doing Advanced Reading this year...the only thing worse than the books were the computerized tests that only taught her to read for the type of info the test might ask. Plus, she got rewarded for taking the tests.

Sorry, but I'm trying to teach my kid that we learn for learning's sake and that's it's fun--not that you'll get candy afterwards.

"Physicist" is one of those words you just sound drunk saying...kind of like "judicial system"

Rhonda Nelson said...

Definitely free reading, IMO. (Though I have to admit I'm glad hat my kids have required reading over the summer from school--with book reports due the first day--otherwise they wouldn't crack one open over the extended holiday.)

birdzilla said...

I know that I usually dwell on a totally different subject matter, but today I shall refrain.

SP and I were reading the book of the week last night as pointed out by Instigator. All heckling aside, I actually studied astrophysics for 2 years in college. Luckily I was able to explain most terms to her. Surprisingly enough, she understood it all.

I just think the whole level reading subjects are getting out of control. On the other hand, she seems to enjoy these books.

At all other times, the girls are able to read fun books (animals, farming, and gardening of course) and most certainly enjoy them.

Kathy said...

The AR program has good and bad points. #1 children are reading. #2 they are reading to reach a goal, which is in turn teaching them about goals. #3 they are learning and increasing their vocabulary. #4 they are rewarded!

Down sides have already listed. If you can't find reading material you like, you're forced to read dry, boring stuff. Most kids that read a lot in the AR program advance far beyond their reading level and some books just aren't appropriate for certain ages.

My kids love to read, I think in part because of the AR program. At HS level, kids have to chose 1 book out of 2-3 choices over the summer and read it because they are 'tested' the first day of school. The good thing: kids reading over summer. Which has helped #3 return to his favorite books like, the Dune series, Lord of the Rings, and such, just to read for fun.

Mark said...

Just wait, it only gets worse. My boys liked reading until they were forced to read the banal stuff in school. Now they hate it and while I was able to get one back into reading by massive (expensive) infusions of fantasy books that he wanted to read, however I've lost the other one, he hates reading and probably will never read a book for pleasure in his life.

My niece was struggling with reading, liked to read but hated the books they gave her. So she was assigned a lower grade reader and required to read 2 hours per night 7 days a week and the pages she read had to be written down and initialed by a parent. You can imagine how well that worked out (for both sides) and she now hates reading alltogether, but I hope I will be able to turn it around with some more interesting books she likes.

Lynn Raye Harris said...

This is something I don't understand, having no children. But I don't recall being forced to read anything as a kid. There wasn't much I didn't like. In fact, I remember one teacher really getting us into storytelling by playing records (yes, those big black discs that spun around on a turntable) of stories. I distinctly remember Old Yeller that way.

Playground Monitor said...

Despite being read to almost from day one, my boys really didn't like to read on their own. I did have some success with those build-your-own-adventure books where you turn to different pages to change the direction of the plot. Now that they're older, they've started reading again, or at least #2 son has. He loved Dan Brown and also plays the cryptography games on his website. He's read the Tolkien books several times too. #1 son is probably reading books on toddlers since BabyGrand is approaching her second birthday. LOL!

I just think they push kids too fast nowadays. Just because a five-year-old can read doesn't mean they need to push them into reading upper level material. Between this and that stupid "No Child Left Behind" garbage, it's a wonder today's kids learn anything at all.

Sorry to be so late checking in. I had physical therapy at 8:00 and then had to raise hell at the pharmacy afterward. Then I had to shell out good money to fill up my gas tank. It's depressing.


terrio said...

My kiddo is 8 and likes to read, but when forced to do it, she fights the whole way. She loves the Magic Treehouse books. I haven't noticed her being forced to read anything she didn't like and she gets a sense of accomplishment from accumulating AR points.

Still, the read for X amount of time a night can make it sound more like work or punishment than something to be enjoyed which can warp the entire experience.

Homer Hickam said...

The reason (I suspect) that kids don't like to read their assignments in school these days is that the teachers aren't readers themselves. Therefore, they don't know what's interesting and what's not.

Rocket Boys/October Sky, I'm pleased to say, often gets kids (middle school and up) back into reading. I certainly didn't write it for kids - it's an adult book - but for some reason, they latch onto it, then want to read more. Try it and let me know how it works out.

Finally, although I love Sally Ride and find her a most compatible friend, she is not the first woman in space. That particular honor goes to one Valentina Tereshkova, a Russian parachutist who flew into orbit in 1962, 21 years before Miss Ride rode the Shuttle.