Getting Boys to Read

Today I stumbled upon a great article from The Wall Street Journal called How to Raise Boys That Read.

It is written by Thomas Spence who is the president of Spence Publishing Company in Dallas. He has six sons and has plenty of experience with boys and reading. He discusses the rapid decline over the last twenty years of the education of boys in this country particularly in the area of literacy.

The literacy rates of girls has been going up and has strongly surpassed that of the nation's boys. He makes a very interesting comparison. Not too long ago the elite schools and universities were often reserved mostly for males whereas now most boys are deemed unfit for the classroom.

What a difference that is!!

The agreement among the professionals is that the reason behind the big drop in literacy for boys is that boys do not read enough. They simply are not getting enough practice and are not building up the skills that they need to succeed.

Some professionals believe that boys simply become bored with typical literature and that is why they do not read. So to combat this there has been a recent movement to meet the boys where they are and produce books about bodily functions and all things gross. Some professionals even have "gross-out parties" just to get them reading.

The emphasis is not on what is being read but that something is being read at all.

There are many book publishers and authors who are more than happy to provide the gross books for young boys to read. The Captain Underpants and The Butt Books series are best sellers for boys.

But the author argues that education ought to be what it once was, not only giving facts but also teaching the "formation of manners and taste". A great point! I can only imagine what reading The Butt Books is teaching young boys in their school libraries.

He also points out that if you simply keep meeting boys where they are, rather than challenging them to grow and try new things, the boys will not go very far. They certainly won't be encouraged to grow into men who will make good fathers, husbands and professionals. He believes that we are raising a generation of barbarians.

His experience with his six sons is that grossology is not needed to keep a boy's interest in a book. He also discusses that he hasn't ever needed to bribe his sons with video games to get them to read as so many parents are admitting to doing these days.

Which leads to his point that the decline in boy's reading and literacy has gone down since the video games and other forms of electronic entertainment. He suggests that the competition between electronics and academics has more to do with the decline of boys literacy than the potty humor. He even has a scientific study to back up this idea, that the boys in the study who spent more time playing video games than reading had a dramatic decline in academic performance.

His suggestion is to remove the competition of the video games and watch the boys begin to read again.

I personally couldn't agree more, remember my recent post about taking a day to be free of the TV? I've been cutting back on his TV watching and it's been amazing to watch his imagination soar. He has been drawing better and playing with much more gusto. It's been wonderful to watch!

He's not at the point of reading just yet - but he already knows what most of the sounds are for the letters! He picked it up really fast! He also loves having stories read to him which is a strong foundation to reading later on so I will continue to read to him and find more times throughout the day to read. I want to far surpass the recommended 20 minutes a day.

Oh and I can't leave out the last two sentences in the article: "I offer a final piece of evidence that is perhaps unanswerable: There is no literacy gap between home-schooled boys and girls. How many of these families, do you suppose, have thrown grossology parties?"

What are your thoughts??

Pre-K going great so far!

Our Pre-K curriculum has been going well! We got off to a late start though. I was going to start the week of Labor Day but there was so much going on that I decided to start the following week.

The beauty of home education! Flexibility! Being able to make it work around our needs and not the other way around. I love it!

Though just because we aren't doing the curriculum doesn't mean that learning isn't taking place!

Since so much of our Pre-K learning is hands-on there has been a lot going on without circle time, flash cards, tracing, planned out discussions, etc.

Since Little Mister is so excited about the ABC's and numbers he points them out all the time: on traffic signs, business signs, toys, clothes, books, anything.

He also loves to play board games and I encourage learning games which he does love. This reinforces counting and other math skills such as order, sizing, etc.

Blocks, play dough, building and digging in the dirt, watching daddy building a special project in the yard, potato heads, playing with puppets, dress up, reading stories, etc. all teach many important lessons - the way that we are meant to learn. Naturally, having fun, hands-on.

If you are looking for more ideas about what young children learn through play, check this out: What I Learn Through Play

Our Pre-K Curriculum

As I mentioned in my last post I have been very busy with a lot of things over the last week or so.

Preparing our Pre-K curriculum has been one thing that I've been working on actively.

I am excited about our curriculum for this year - as I was about our preschool curriculum last year!

I enjoy creating something that provides direction, plenty of learning opportunities, and flexibility. I am all about hands-on learning, exploring and discovering through play. I use flashcards, tracing, worksheets and similar products at a minimum. They are useful tools that teach certain skills but I don't rely on them too heavily.

Because I run a home preschool the curriculum that I am using for my son is also the same curriculum that I am using for the preschool as well.

I designed the curriculum for my son but I will alter as needed for the preschool kids. Most of them are right about his age so thankfully they will mostly all be on the same page which will be fun - and convenient for me!

This is a very hands-on curriculum. We are going to use a wide variety of activities to encourage reading skills as well as other important skill for this age.

Singing songs, listening to stories, flashcards for letter sounds, number flashcards, calendar to discuss days of the week, numbers and weather. We have an open discussion time for each child to discuss what is on their mind.

We dramatize stories, nursery rhymes, bible stories, community jobs, animal life, family roles, and much more through acting them out and also with the use of puppets and finger puppets.

We use many different types of artistic materials to create, sometimes the activities are teacher directed and other times the children are given materials to create and explore with independently.

We are going to use an early phonics curriculum to promote beginning reading skills. We also use worksheets, tracing, creatives, puzzles, and much more. The more hands-on it is the more fun the kids have learning! The children also listen to stories which is a very important part of learning to read. We also have cards for matching and putting words together. We use discovery by finding numbers around the room on posters, in books, etc.

Tracing, sorting, building, puzzles, blocks. We have a wide range of activities to promote early math skills including games, puzzles, legos, building blocks, tinker toys, lincoln logs, counting tokens, etc. We also use discovery to find numbers around the room.

Science, exercise and learning games are also very important components to our learning to read curriculum. We have very basic science experiments and activities for the children to learn basic concepts of science. We get outside regularly and get a lot of exercise on a daily basis. We have many board games which promote early learning.

(Image Credit)

Busy, busy, busy!

iscI haven't posted in over a week because I have been very busy with a lot of things!
  • Organizing and Decluttering the House - making progress, I don't know if this will ever be something that I "check off" as done and complete!
  • Preparing the Curriculum and Schedule for the School Year
  • Updating my Website for my Home Preschool (I had some kids "graduate" so I need to fill those spots!)
  • Attempting to Organize my Entire Life! I have so much to do, so many goals, so many things that I am excited about that it can be hard to prioritize and make enough time for everything. Not a bad thing, a good challenge to have!
  • Making small efforts to prepare for this baby that will be here in a couple of short months! I don't feel like there is a lot to be done, but there are definitely things that need to be done, with more coming up all the time. Such as needing that 3 hour glucose test and possibly a change in thyroid levels.