Monday, February 4, 2013

Getting your kids to read to each other

Sometimes my children are so wonderful, they read books to each other without me asking them to.

Sometimes my children are pretty wonderful and they read to each other when I ask them to.

And sometimes my children won't read to each other without serious harassment and threats of other jobs.

Hmm. I don't like threatening when reading is involved (though I am perfectly happy threatening them about other things like chores—I'm especially good about threatening with treats and not following through with my threats. Like giving them treats anyway, even when they haven't done everything as I asked them too. I am consistently inconsistent in this regard... which makes me pretty wonderful too, I suppose).

So the solution to this problem—when they won't read to each other—would just be to not make them read to each other.

But I love it when they read to each other. I love it. They love it. Really. Most of the time. Once they get going.

So sometimes I pay them.

This is probably illegal in some states. I mean, you shouldn't have to pay your children to do a service like that, right? And if you pay them for reading to each other sometimes, will they ever read to each other without getting money?

I do not know the answers to those questions, they are too deep for me, but I've discovered that I am willing to pay my children to do things I think are really, really good for them. Consequences, shmonsequences.

The other day I asked Shaemus (who really needed to do some reading aloud—always worried that kid isn't reading enough) to read aloud to Flannery (who could always use some more read aloud time and will take it from anyone, anytime, anyplace). Sometimes he will do it for fun, but he was in the middle of building himself a rocket ship out of cardboard (something I highly approve of) and didn't want to be interrupted. I knew he would go back to the rocket ship the second he was done, so I wasn't worrying about interrupting his creativity, and Flannery really needed some attention I couldn't give her.

"Two dollars," I told Shaemus. "If you read Flannery fifteen books of your choice (not baby books), you can have two dollars."

And this was the result:

Please excuse the quality of this video. I was trying to be sneaky. I didn't want them to know what I was doing, and they didn't until Shaemus's head turned. If you can make it that far in the video, notice when I finally focus in on Flannery's face, how fascinated she is by the story. She doesn't care how imperfectly Shaemus is reading. She is so involved, she can't even suck her finger properly (we're working on that finger sucking—just in case your worried...). And they sat like that, close together, snuggling, reading books, having a great time and not fighting a bit, for well over an hour.

Two dollars well-spent.

(And I will gladly pay for therapy if they have issues later in life.)

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