After my oldest son moved away to college he confessed to me that classic books are a far better read than some of the nonsense published today. My oldest son also told his Grandmother that he enjoyed poetry because I used to read poetry to him and his two younger brothers. Yes, I did pat myself on the back and couldn’t be happier. I felt successful. If you noticed I have three boys and each one is different. You know how that is, children are unique, and maybe that’s why you homeschool. To customize your child’s educational experience or maybe you purchased pricey curriculum and you are determined to get your son to read the material. But it is not a simple process to customize or follow a curriculum. If your son is not interested in the topic you are likely to feel him digging his heels in the dirt and your hair falling out. What are we to do?
Go to the Library
When we first started homeschooling I had the fortune to learn about Lifestyle of Learning an approach to homeschool that resonated with me. A suggestion from the author was to take your children to the library and let them select books that they would enjoy reading. This has been the best idea to motivate my sons to read. Not only did they voluntarily read but I got to know their interests better.
Many of you may already have a special time to read-aloud together. I have heard from many homeschooled children that this was a special time and a happy memory for them. When your children are not reading on their own, it is an opportunity for them to hear great literature inspiring them to read quality literature in the future. This is a great opportunity to share your love for reading and another time where you will discover your child’s favorite genre. An important key to reading aloud is to not make this a drudgery. Most young boys are active and will gladly sit while you allow them to do a quiet activity while you are reading. My oldest son enjoyed sitting next to me while the youngest two built with blocks and colored.
One of the homeschool groups I was a member of had the wonderful idea of a book club. It was a book club for boys but I don’t remember if we just all happened to have boys or what. Keeping up with your peers is an incentive to do about anything. The boys met at our library (45 minutes from where I lived). I can still see the big smiles on their faces. I forget to mention that I was responsible for the book club. Our first meeting was fun. Jokes were told while the boys shared about what they liked to do and laughter filled the back meeting room as they ate cookies. The first book was Runaway Ralph by Beverly Cleary. They just thought Ralph, the character, was the neatest thing. The boys read the books and enjoyed the comradery.
When I worked for a homeschool correspondent school we started a reading incentive program. When the student read a certain number of books, depending on the grade level, a small prize was given. For each book read, a link to the bookworm, a paper creature stapled to the wall, was added with the students’ name and the title of the book. The bookworm ended up twisting and turning through the office. We had a lot of happy kids and satisfied homeschool parents. To do this at home you will want to have a start date and end date. Let’s say you decide that it will last for three months. Your son is 10 years old and says he hates to read. You want your son to feel accomplished. Remember, the goal is to create a love for literature. If reading 3 books would be an achievement for him then that’s his goal. When you share this with him and he thinks 4 would better and that’s what he wants to do than follow his lead. You know your child best. If you believe that he will feel defeated if he doesn’t read four books, then make it 3 books and 4 books would be a bonus.
Read, Read and Read
Read, read and read some more. There is nothing better than a model like yourself. If you enjoy reading then more than likely so will your child. It can be hard though when boys don’t have a male role model that reads with them or is seen reading. This is true across the board for many areas in a boys life. You can research this further in The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease. In my household, I am the big reader, not my husband. Oddly enough my sons enjoy a good book but with video games and social media, it is a challenge.
Not much different than the reading incentive idea is to use a goal chart to track the books he reads. This is a nice visual that can motivate your son to complete the chart. What is different from the reading incentive is that you can have a goal of 6 books for the year but have 12 on your goal chart. The idea is much like a game. Once the goal of 6 is achieved seeing that you can go further your son may think “I can do one more.” and so on. Of course, he may read the 6 books and be happy with that.
Be Positive and Encouraging
No matter if your son reads online magazines, articles, graphic novels or classic literature, recognize that he is reading. Never be judgemental about what he is reading (within reason). Take an interest and perhaps read what he is reading. Be positive and encouraging. He may not want to read Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens but instead, he would rather read The Runaway Robot by Lester Del Rey. He is reading and that is a good thing.
These approaches have been collected from seasoned homeschoolers and they work. The hardest part is finding what will work for your son. And I hate to tell you, what works today may not work tomorrow. You may not be aware that all the effort you put in today will be seen years later, like me.
What are some ideas for motivating your son to read?