Reading vs. Reading

I guess you can officially call me “old-fashioned.” 

This year, as Samantha has been experiencing her first year of public education, I have found myself being somewhat resistant to certain aspects of her educational journey.

Mainly, my resistance has been focused on the apparent lack of child protection procedures at her school. Emily and I have made a commitment to be present for any field trips because we have learned that the school corporation does not require parent chaperones to have a background check. I am absolutely shocked that the school does not require background checks on every single person that enters the building and comes into contact with the children…in any capacity. Let’s be honest, in today’s world, there is no excuse for NOT taking all precautions to protecting our children. We’ve all seen too many headlines involving adults taking advantage of children in educational settings. But, that’s another post. 

The focus of this post is reading. And, this is where the “old-fashioned” part comes in. 

Online

In order to promote reading, the school has utilized an online reading program. Students are encouraged to get online, login to their account, listen to and read several books. As they listen and read, they are rewarded with points and advance higher levels of achievement. At school, they get to move their name up various charts. And, at the end of the school year, they can get a special certificate and a trophy during a special end of the year program if they make it through the program.

Now, I’m all for online reading. I read numerous online papers and magazines. I’m a big fan on e-readers. I write blogs that I hope others will read. So, yes, I’m a supporter of online reading.

Yet, there’s just something that I struggle to embrace about asking my 5 year old to sit down in front of a computer for lengthy periods of time in order to improve her reading skills.

I mean, if she sits in front of the computer reading she is still, in fact, reading. And, it allows me to be lazy because I really wouldn’t have to sit, listen, and provide assistance. But, it just feels odd. 

And, I’m not saying that I think it is “wrong” for other parents to utilize this program. I’m just saying that it is strange to me. Honestly, I feel like this is just a tool the schools are utilizing to help students while enabling parents to slack on some of the responsibilities of being parents (you know, like spending time with your child and being involved in their education…yes, I know that sounds judgmental…because it is). 

Instead, I would prefer to invite Samantha to sit next to me with a pile of books as we read together. She reads while I listen and offer help when appropriate (something the online program can’t really do).

And so, that’s what we do. We’ve logged on a couple of times and worked through a couple of levels. But, it just seems weird. I mean, I’ve read numerous articles that say children spend too much time online, playing video games, and watching TV. And, now, the schools are encouraging students to develop reading skills by playing an educational, online reading game.

So, instead, we make sure that we read with Samantha every day. And, she’s doing a great job with her reading. According to the standards, she is ahead of schedule with her reading (and writing…and arithmetic…what can I say, she’s a smart cookie). Yet, she won’t be one of the trophy winners at the end of the year. 

Maybe that makes me a bad parent…maybe not. 

And, then, there is another issue…Not every student has access to a computer at home. Sure, we could be heartless and say “Well, maybe their parents should just get them to the library” or “well, maybe if their parents got a decent job they could afford a computer and internet access” or “maybe the parents should spend less on ______ in order to get a computer and internet access.” So, the very nature of the program discriminates against some students. 

Thankfully, the program does not impact the students grades. Not participating in the program simply means some students won’t have their names read while being presented with a certificate and trophy. And, you know what? We might think that’s trivial. But, some students will be upset…even broken-hearted when they don’t receive that trophy.