Thursday, 17 September 2015

Why school reading quotas are bad for kids

I’ve told my son to ignore his school reading quota.

Bad parent.

But I think I have a very good reason to take this action.

To help my child improve his reading.

Waking Up Worried

He woke up one school morning this week seemingly in a state of panic.  In our first full week of a new school year, still misty eyed and groggy, his first words were:

“Oh no, I need to do my school reading quota today.”

After reassuring him, and getting him breakfast and sorted for school, we sat down to talk about his school reading quota.

“I HAVE to read three times a week for 30 minutes.” He explained.

“Well, you must do that comfortably son,” I replied “You’ve been reading your new Marvel Comic for ages this week.”

“Yes, but I haven’t found any new vocabulary.” He pointed out.

Marvel Comics expand the mind but not the vocabulary, apparently

Read This & Then Approach

So, essentially, his school reading quota is not only for a prescribed amount of time, it has to be deemed worthy material.  Reading material must always expand your vocabulary.  Pressure x 2.

What utter nonsense.

My boy has always enjoyed reading, and the key element to that enjoyment, to any non-robot, is that he has always enjoyed what he’s reading.

I’ve not always liked his literacy choices.  We differ enormously on our opinions of Diary of a Wimpy Kid.  But it’s almost totally his choice, and as long as it isn’t mind warping or totally age inappropriate.

Reading for Fun Will Yield Better Results

I explained that the most important thing is he isn’t to worry about his school reading quota.  His reading should never become a chore.

If I have to go on a crusade, falsify his reading records or feed him new words for his vocabulary to fool his English teacher, his love of reading is to be preserved.

“Keep reading what and when you want to read, and let me worry about the rest.” I assured him.

Hopefully this is a message he hears, understands, and doesn’t actually add to his worries..

I’m sure his teacher, school and I all share the same wish that my boy continues to progress with his reading and comprehension.

But I’m also convinced my way will have much better long-term impact.

Mind, I always think I’m right.

What do you think of school reading quotas?  Fancy joining a half-baked crusade?