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Challenge: Reading Together

So what if your child doesn't complete their summer reading log?

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"How's the summer reading log coming?" is a question I should probably be asking my elementary-aged kids quite a bit more than I have these first few weeks of summer.

"How's the kids' summer reading log coming?" is a question I should probably be asking myself each day, as my elementary-aged kids' parent, leader and the day-to-day task/responsibility enforcer.


BUT, instead, my inquiries have been more along the lines of:

Is anyone hungry?

Is it time for another snack?

Who wants a popsicle?

Did you like that ice cream flavor?

Wanna go swimming?

How about we go to the park?

Where should we go out to eat tonight?

Did you enjoy the movie?

What game are you playing on your tablet?

Was the water cold? Did the rollercoaster scare you?

Did you enjoy riding your bike?

Aren't you full from you churro? How was soccer practice?

Did you make any new friends?

How was camp?

Wanna go to the trampoline park tomorrow?

Should we have yet another dance party?

THESE are the questions of summer.

Or rather, these are the questions of a PROPER summer, according to this mom of three young ones.

And, what about if we also consider this other crucial question for us mamas:

Are you and your kids spending the majority of your 1-of-18 [supposedly] guaranteed, but fleeting summers that you have together, operating in a joyful mode, while learning and growing, through an almost excessive amount of play, an embarrassing amount of sweets, some periodic crying, and a whole hell of a lot of love?

If the answer is yes, then you, my dear friend, are kickin' butt this summer as a parent, whether your reading log reflects such or not.

While I am wholeheartedly a proponent of raising kids who love to read, kids who are forced to read, won't develop their own fondness towards it.

Still, I'd be lying if I said that, on the day to day during the school year, I wasn't a taskmaster drill sergeant.

"Did you complete your ten minutes of reading and ten minutes of math for the day?" is a daily question when school is in session.

And, if their answer is "no," well, then both must be completed before we move on to any fun beyond the books.

BUT, this summer, the kids and I have all been busy, and, well, ensuring they each read religiously or practice reading until they are blue in the face, it just hasn't been a top priority.

So, while I could crucify myself with guilt and plague my mind with ill-placed anxiety over our family's unplanned pursuit of an informal summer, I've decided to look at it in another way -- a way in which I don't beat myself up for my munchkins lack of progress on their reading trackers and instead rate their (and my) progress on how well they are developing into well-rounded, creative, fun-loving, information-seeking, risk-taking life lovers WHO STILL ENJOY TO READ.

And so, I'll aim to give them credit for each time they read:

a restaurant menu

a toy instructional manual

a step-by-step recipe

the tv channel guide

the in-app commentary on their tablets

their younger sister's "day sheet"

the soccer team roster

a list of camp rules

jokes from their joke book

a birthday invite from a friend

a postcard from a family member


play cards from a board game

Yes, of course, we will still have certain days where I will enforce reading from a soft or hardcover book or even require them to complete at least twenty or thirty minutes on ABCya, i-Ready, ABCmouse, or GoNoodle, but it's just won't be a "must" for every day; instead, it will be an assignment for the occasional day when we have the time.

Some may think I'm quite irresponsible with this semi-lackadaisical approach to summer reading, but this is not me tossing conventional methods of learning out the minivan window.

It's me deciding not to be utterly foolish by solely concentrating on avoiding the "summer learning loss," when making time for other things like family, friends, trips, and experiences offer both them and me so much to gain.

As with everything, one has got to find that balance and this summer -- the summer before my oldest goes into third grade and my son starts Kindergarten -- I am more than confident in and content with my choice to change my focus a bit.

So, what's the ultimate goal?

To raise happy, humbly self-assured, and self-sufficient children who love to spend time reading, but who also see the undeniable educational (and more) value in doing other things.

And, so, for most of the days that make up the rest of this all-too-short-but-the-days-seem-long summer break, I am going to hold steadfast to the notion that logging real-life adventures, family time, occasional meltdowns and a crapton of fun is just as essential, if not more, than filling in those yet to be mandatory elementary reading logs.

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