Sometimes, it can be like pulling teeth to get students engaged in reading. Any teacher that has set foot in a classroom knows exactly what I’m talking about. We don’t always understand a child’s reluctance to reading. It is an important skill and it can be a great leisure activity. The reality is that not all students will read for pleasure, but every one of them will read to gather information. How do teachers encourage students to read at home then?
- Start the habit early. When students are younger, learning gaps are generally much smaller. This is where you really want to get parents/guardians, co-workers, and administration involved in the push for literacy. Contests for most books read and innovative projects involving books are a great way to go. Encourage students to check out books from their library and carve out time to read during the class day. Allow them to take the books home and offer them a variety of ways to share what they’ve read. This may be a short sentence that summarizes a chapter or a graphic organizer that explains who the characters are. Design some type of incentive in your classroom that applauds the student’s efforts.
- Go digital. Many children are much more technology literate today than in past years. Find a way to access books online (such as Big Universe!). Many of the critical skills and documents for adulthood are going digital, so they will be learning two skills at the same time. It is all about the digital literacy. It doesn’t always have to be books. Sometimes, it can be researching a topic of interest to them. Encourage adults at home to allow the students access online with supervision.
- Let the sky be the limit. When encouraging reading at home, my only rule to my students is that it must be appropriate for classroom discussion. For some of my students, I carve out a minute or two for them to tell me about a topic they have been researching. For others, they will bring in “proof” such as a printout from a website or a summary of what have they have found. The key is to let it be something that interests that student individually. I know that is sometimes difficult for teachers to do since we can be constrained by what we are told to teach. It doesn’t have to be a formal setting. For the majority of my students, they speak to me during earned break time. I’ve examined everything from rocks to coins brought to me and asked for the students to discover the background of the object and report back to me. For one student, this was my “in” with him. To this day, three years later, he will still bring a rock to show me along with sharing its history and use. That isn’t in the standards I teach, but this student may end up a world-renowned geologist. Why would I want to stifle that interest?
What are some ways that you encourage reading at home?