I will skip with the introductions for now. That’s what the ABOUT ME section is all about. However, I do want to document this mini summer reading camp I am doing for my 6 year old daughter and some of her neighborhood friends. Age group 6-7.5, give or take. I decided to start small. A small group, meeting for an hour for a stint of ten days. Two reasons:
#1: Her toddler brother won’t allow any commitment bigger than this.
#2: The daughter was a somewhat reluctant reader. I had introduced her to books even before she turned 2 and read to her diligently but all that had taken a backseat when baby n0. 2 arrived on the scene. That had to change. I always had visions of my daughter reading out story books fluently and with pleasure by the time she turned 6. So when her 6th birthday was around the corner, I thought this would be a good way to involve her friends and get them to motivate each other. Who says peer pressure is always a bad thing?
We are nearing the end of the ‘Camp’ and I can gratefully say there has been a marked spike in her interest level. She’s reading more books, more fluently, is more motivated and has begun picking books to read for pleasure. (Not to mention making earnest attempts to read sign boards, labels and cartons!)
Here’s how we did it. I will be posting each day’s activities under a separate post Inshalah, but here’s a gist.
We kept it simple. The sessions were broken down roughly like this:
15-20 minutes of story telling (by me; I try to use a lot of voice modulation, onomatopoeia and exaggerated gestures to keep the kids engaged. For non native learners I think non verbal cues are even more important; even if the kids are sufficiently comfortable with the target language.) This was followed by a brief discussion. Kids could ask questions, quip in with their own experiences or talk about their favorite part, general theme, etc.
15 minutes INDEPENDENT reading: Most people would think nothing really ‘happens’ in this slot. But personally (and as an English teacher) I believe this is the most HAPPENING part of all. Eventually that’s the point of any reading program: to create independent readers. I set up a mini ‘library’, mostly with my daughter’s books while some kids got their own books to add to it. Each kid chose a book of her choice and read as many pages as she could in 15 minutes. I counted how many pages each child read and marked that number on a progress chart against their name with a gold star. So by the end of the day, each child could see her reading ‘score’ on the chart. My friend and I would help the kids with tough words they got stuck with. I can tell you this: NOTHING motivates a 6 year old more than the desire to get more ‘points’ on the wall than her friends! (And no, I don’t believe any kid was ‘traumatized’ by a poorer score. I kept telling them they each had to become the best reader THEY could be. And each day the ‘strugglers’ put in more effort to better their previous score.) Of course I kept this bit flexible. If the kids seemed to be enjoying an extension activity I would let them be but insist they finish at least ONE book at home.
20 minutes of some literacy based activity or game
5 minutes for each child to select a book from the ‘library’ that they could take home to read. If they finished the entire book by themselves at home, they were marked accordingly on the chart.