Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Summer Reading Olympics!

Olympic Rings

Now that summer's here, your children are going to be spending a lot less time sitting in class, and a lot more time sitting around your house.  Hot summer days can be boredom inducing, or they can be brain boosting!  There's nothing better than relaxing in front of a fan with a good book on a steamy day.

But maybe your kids haven't realized this yet.  Maybe they haven't discovered that reading is fun.  What you need is a little incentive.  Many parents feel they shouldn't reward kids for reading because they want their kids to read purely for the love of it.  This ignores a fundamental truth about reading, however.  When kids first learn to read, it's not fun.  It's hard, hard work!  Their little brains are trying to remember a million things at once, and it's exhausting.  Reading only becomes enjoyable once it feels natural.  Until then, your child probably needs a little motivation.  We used to require Crazy Bug to read 10 minutes a night.  Some nights it was torture.  We kept it up, though, and suddenly, when she got to a second grade reading level, she took off!  Now she's reading day and night.  It took us a few incentive programs to get her there however.

This year Crazy Bug's school participated in her school's Reach For the Gold Reading Program.  The idea was for students to become "Olympic Readers" by reading for 15 minutes each night.  There were ribbons for students who read for 10 consecutive nights, and medals for those who read 20, 30, or 40 nights.  Crazy Bug would have done ANYTHING to earn that gold medal!

There's no reason you can't recreate this program at home!  Here's how:
  • Set your own goal for either a daily commitment or a total number of hours read.
  • Kick off your Reading Olympics with an Opening Ceremony.  Create some fun Olympic themed crafts together, like this Olympic torch.

  • At the halfway point, your "athletes" gain corporate sponsorship with all its perks!  (Let them choose their favorite place for an inexpensive treat and call it a sponsorship perk.)

  • Keep the fun rolling with Activity Village's Olympic printables.
  • When your kids have met their goals, hold an awards ceremony.  Make your own awards or purchase these fancy medals.
There's no reason why you can't stretch the Olympic fun to other subjects too.  The Summer Olympics has more than one event.  Maybe your child can earn a silver medal in math facts or a bronze for geography!  You could also do a unit study on the Olympic Games.  Homeschool Shareoffers a free Olympics Lapbook template.

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