Reporting on Reading

It’s been two months since my last post, and I don’t think I can adequately convey the sense of the miraculous change that has happened in our home as it relates to reading.

My boys are reading.

My boys are readers.

My boys are anxiously taking turns with our easy readers so they can complete various Summer Reading programs…ON THEIR OWN. Honestly, this one surprised me to no end.

It is all just awesome.

I feel very grateful for the inspiration I received to help me structure our second attempt at learning to read. It all came together so much better than what I was coming up with on my own.

Seeing their progress on their sticker charts with the object of their desire at the top really kept Henry and Sam going. Slow and steady was the name of the game. Their enthusiasm for reading grew as they neared their rewards. I overheard them talking about what they wanted to work toward for their next chart, which of course, made me smile, because it meant that they intended to continue in the learning process.

Sam reached his goal first. He ended up getting Nitroblast (a bad guy) instead of Stormer (a good guy). There were a lot of brother negotiations involved, but part of it had to do with Henry having his birthday about a week before they finished and buying Stormer with some of his birthday money. They were both happy with the way things worked out.

Henry finished a few days after Samuel and ended up with Evo instead of Fire Lord (he wanted Fire Lord for his birthday more than he wanted it for the reward chart).

By the time we finished these charts, it became apparent to me that we were more than a little behind on our Explode the Code books. Since I felt strongly that we needed these as reinforcement for the things we were learning in Reading, we decided to structure the next incentive chart a little differently.

Incentive Chart #2 was 100% ETC (Explode the Code). I calculated how many pages they each had left in their workbooks and told them that this time, in order to earn a sticker, they had to complete four pages of their ETC. 4 pages = 1 sticker. The reward would be a $5 gift card at Target, where they could buy whatever they wanted. Henry caught onto a subtle difference with this chart early on. With the first incentive chart, he got 1 sticker/day of reading, regardless of how much he read. This new system didn’t say anything about what he was required to do (or be limited by) in a day. He quickly got in the habit of doing 8-12 pages (2 or 3 stickers) a day. As a result, he finished his chart almost ten days ahead of Sam.

Here’s the happy reader:

The kids were anticipating a trip to Target with Dad this weekend, so Samuel hustled and finished his last 16 pages yesterday.

His $5 gift card went toward two new Transformer toys.

The current state of affairs brings us to another incentive chart, the purpose of which is to get Henry through ETC Book 2 and get Samuel into ETC Book 2 so that I can begin the Silent E section of “Ordinary Parent’s Guide” with Henry and Consonant Blends with Samuel. Henry is working toward a box of Jawbreakers and Sam a King-sized Twix. I’m not entirely sure how much longer we’ll need incentive charts to keep us going, but I couldn’t keep up with the expectation of Bionicles. Too expensive! A gradual weaning process is my hidden agenda here. ;)

All in all, we are all very happy. The boys are feeling more confident with their new skills and I smile from ear to ear when I hear them sounding out words on signage, boxes, stores, merchandise, etc. We are on our way.


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