Reading and Misbehaving

If you are reading this blog post, chances are you enjoy reading. Hopefully, you enjoy the reading you do on my blog (wink wink) So, let me ask you this question:

How often do you read the reading you love, out aloud?

We don’t do it… it is laborious, unnatural and time consuming.

And so, I ask my next question – Why do we make our kids do it?

Okay – we want to check that they are reading correctly. I used to make the kids I teach and my own kids read out aloud. Thanks to Tony Stead  I changed this practice very quickly. It is our duty as parents and teachers to instill a love for reading in our children. Reading is essential because from reading we learn not only about life, but we learn language as well as spelling and writing. Making our children read aloud is not going to encourage a love for reading.

If a child experiences difficulty with reading, reading aloud can be excruciating… which leads me on to my next question. What point is there in reading if you do not understand what you are reading? I know I am only too happy to toss an article aside if I have no ideas what it is telling me.

 If children read aloud, they are :

  1. Spending all their energy decoding the words and trying to read them correctly.
  2. So, not understanding what they are reading.
  3. So, not connecting to the text or content.
  4. So, seeing no value or getting no satisfaction from reading.
  5. So…hating reading.

In my reading classes, where I used to make children read aloud, I now:

  1. Have each child working on his own reading book at his own pace at his own level (It is SO hard for children to listen to other children reading.)
  2. Have children read aloud only in their 1:1 conference time with me – where we also have a discussion about the book. (There are heaps of stuff out there on ideas for running conferences – but I am happy to share mine too as I have reorganised mine a few times to make it work for me.)
  3. Know the children understand what they are reading because I have chosen books for them on the correct level. I get them confident with independent reading and my expectations and then I PUSH.
  4. Know the children understand what they are reading because they are able to successfully complete engaging tasks that I have pre-prepared around the book they are reading (I have learnt to make these short too because I have come to the realization that nothing kills a love for reading more than knowing you have to do this whole book report on it when you are done. It takes the enjoyment out of it.) One student once said to me, “This is reading class. Why are you making me write?”
  5. Have used this system to build up the silent reading stamina of children in my class.
  6. Acknowledge that there is a very important place in the whole classroom where the teacher reads aloud and shares books with her students.
  7. Would do lots of reading aloud in the Kindergarten year, but start building up silent reading stamina right from the beginning.

At home, I:

  1. Have encouraged the parents of children I teach to allow their children to read silently.
  2. Have encouraged parents to read side by side with their children – but silently. Sometimes they read from the same book, sometimes they each read their own book.
  3. Have acknowledged that there still is a place to read aloud with your kids and share reading aloud…but silent reading is more important.

 I know this works, by sharing the following success stories with you:

  1. I have witnessed students’ reading levels increase at a faster pace than when I used to make them read aloud all the time.
  2. One student told his classroom teacher that he loves my classes the most because he gets to read silently over there.
  3. I love it when children with learning difficulties get upset when the bell goes at the end of reading group time… because they want to continue reading. (Go ahead kids! Get upset!)
  4. I bumped into one of my autistic students in the school holidays. I only started teaching him in February. He had just saved up some money and he was out spending it with his mother. She was in a state of shock when I bumped into her. Guess what he chose to spend his money on? Books! I’m going to take some credit for that one.

And here is my favourite result:

 Last year I taught a little girl who was a reluctant reader. She hated reading. The moment I got her to do silent reading at home and school, she took off. Her comprehension jumped up too – she told me she can just understand it now because she can, “hear it all in my head.” Now this little girl is constantly in trouble at home. You know why? Her parents keep finding her reading under the covers with a torch after lights out. That is just the kind of misbehaviour I love!

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13 Responses to Reading and Misbehaving

  1. Moebius says:

    Last night I heard Mr 7 lying in bed reading his joke book out loud to himself, then laughing hysterically at each joke, then proceeding to the next one. This went on for a quite a while until he’d had enough and went to sleep. Apparently sometimes reading out loud – even to oneself – can be fun.

    • TeacherMum says:

      Apparently so.
      What a cute story. I wonder if any adults ever do it?

      • erin says:

        Yes. I do. And I did it as a kid too. The key is, I did it when I wanted to because I wanted to and not because a teacher had me do it. I think teaching in the states is quite different than in Canada as we don’t have our kids read their books out loud in class anymore except if it is during a conference. I used to love reading out loud, putting different voices and sometimes accents to the different characters. Occasionally I’d look up from my book to find my Gran had been standing behind me for quite a while listening to me read with a smile on her face–she was an author and I think she liked the fact that I enjoyed books so much that I would do this. Again, I think the difference is, that it was my choice. I still read aloud once in a while.

  2. Pingback: Reading and Misbehaving | Teacher Mum

  3. zalman says:

    This blog reminds me of a relative who revolutionised the way English was taught to Hebrew speaking children in Israel

    • TeacherMum says:

      I think a lot of the strategies we use as teachers is actually the same stuff packaged in a different way. So, even though our strategies are probably different to the ones your relative used, if you dig deep down, they are probably covered in all the same principles. Thanks for your comments Zalman.

  4. GERALD says:

    You think in such an innovative way – reading is the main foundation of EVERYTHING!

    But – is it wrong to read aloud to little kids (before they can read) – and once they have progressed (in the privacy of the home) should one not IN FACT listen to them reading aloud – provided they do so willingly? My own 7 year-old GRAND child (my capitals!) reads unbelievably well and loves it. She even sight-reads almost flawlessly from whatever book I’m reading….her Mom is sure doing something right!

    • TeacherMum says:

      HI Gerald
      Agreed – Reading is EVERYTHING!
      In response to your comments – It is ESSENTIAL – to read aloud to little kids from when they are babies. Please know that I am not disregarding the value of reading aloud at all. As I said in my blog post, ” I acknowledge that there is a very important place in the whole classroom where the teacher reads aloud and shares books with her students,” aswell as, “I have acknowledged that there still is a place to read aloud with your kids and share reading aloud…but silent reading is more important.” I also listen to my students reading aloud every week.
      We have a significant problem with children who are fantastic readers…brilliant readers…but they have no idea what they are actually reading. (I am not referring to all children.) The other day I read someone describing this phenomenon very accurately as children, “barking at the text.” I have tested children where their comprehension age is sometimes 3 years below their actual reading age.
      We also have a number of children who will not read at all unless they can read aloud to a parent, because this is the habit that has been cultivated. Now what is happening in our busy, stressful society is that parents don’t have time to listen to their children read – and so this important skill is not happening. If those children learnt to be independent readers, on the days their parents don’t tend to their needs, they would still be reading.
      Lastly, your GRAND child must have one GRAND mum and certainly has a GRAND GRANDAD!

  5. Hurray, Hurray, Hurray!!!! What a wonderful teacher you are!
    My son is struggling immensely with reading and HATES the tremendous amount of effort it takes to decode, then have no idea what he just read. He knows all of his phonetics, but relies on this skill exclusively, and his highly resistant to using any other strategy to help decode and comprehend what he is reading. I really wish it was easier to give him the much needed silence in our home (for all of us) to read silently on his own. Unfortunately, it is frequently a constant stream of shrieks, chatter, laughter and tears here at home with his two sisters (the oldest with Bipolar Disorder). He also has a mood disorder (not otherwise specified) with extreme anxiety and sensory issues. I try as hard as possible to maintain structure, routine, and clear expectations for behavior as well as consequences. The kids are getting assistance in school as well as with outside therapy, but learning is always such a challenge for both of them, although with different academics.

    • TeacherMum says:

      Hi Melody
      Sounds like you are a genuine supermom.
      Have you ever tried putting on some classical music with headphones for your son, so he can get his quiet reading time? Noise cancelling headphones are also availbale, but more expensive and so it might be better to try music first. I have a giant beanbag with a snuggle toy that I use for some kids and they love sitting their reading.
      Remember – if you are going to get him to do independent reading, start with some books that are easier for him so that he develops a love for it, knows that he can do it and connects to the text.
      How amazing that with all you are dealing with, you have a home filled with “shrieks, chatter, laughter” and even the tears – which are unfortunately necessary.
      Good Luck

  6. Hello & welcome to the RC! Thank you so much for sharing these great hints, tips & suggestions. I just know teachers will lap them up. Hope to see you linking again! Thanks again!

  7. maryt82 says:

    You have made really valid points. I have found that once my special needs students become more confident in their reading ability, they WANT to read their favorite books aloud to me. But it’s at their suggestion. I do have to listen to my dyslexic students read to me during specialized instruction (one-on-one or in small groups) but it happens in short spurts and in low-pressure situations.

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