Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Adapting Success

Once upon a time I posted about our success with our Readathons.

The basic rundown is that one day on the weekend you drop everything on the hour, every hour, from 9-5ish and take a moment to have your child read to you for practice's sake. At the end of the day they get a prize.

Our kidlets love Readathons.

Unfortunately(?) their reading skills are no longer lacking, and the readathon—while much enjoyed—could be time better spent on other skills needing some honing.

And I'm tired of tossing out prizes (dinky cars, Lego minifigures, Trashies, Kinder Eggs, whatever's left in the prize bucket) for easy-peasy acts.

Oh no, Mom doesn't hand out prizes for nothing—you need to work for these little mofos, children.

Enter the math-athon. My oldest needs math practice. The youngest does not. And nothing viscerally irks the one that needs help more than having his little brother bouncing with the answer because it comes easily to him.

I get it. Know-it-alls make me stabby, too are aggravating.

Thus it became evident that we needed to manage the oldest's morale by handing a not-so-likeable task to the youngest in order to keep said frustration in check. Enter the printathon...

Yes, our six year old is in grade one and his printing is horrific, chicken scratch, could be Chinese characters I wouldn't know the difference, erm, less than desirable.

Handily, he's been sent home with sight words to be used for quizzing him on his reading—200+ sight words the kid got right the first time through and clearly doesn't need to study in order to repeat the act.

These same booklets I'm repurposing as source words for his printing.

And after a few printathons over the Christmas holidays, he's already showing improvement.
Believe it or not, that's improvement.

Now that he's focusing on an area he needs to work on, his know-it-all attitude has also been knocked down a peg and his older brother isn't nearly so defensive and defeated when approaching his own studies (the hated beast that is math).

I'll call this a win.


  1. This is fantastic! I might need to take some time to stock up on a few prizes before attempting to implement such an idea though. My 8 year old needs to improve his printing (seriously, the 5 year old's printing is better) and my 5 year old needs to develop confidence in her reading. How long do you spend on an activity at any given time for your learnathons?

  2. Thanks, Dawn! :)

    Generally we spend between 5 and 20 minutes on the task--reading I found was far quicker than the math or printing. Our goal is always to get it done quickly and correctly, and the morale of the kids is far better the more time they have between sessions. I try to get R to finish four pages front and back of his math workbook each session (it's grade one stuff and he's in grade three--it all builds on itself, and this stuff is easy enough that it's building his confidence as much as his skill set for now, while still supporting his in class work), but if he's lagging a lot and we're reaching that 20 minute mark, I'll have him walk away for the balance of the hour before picking up where he left off. Sometimes a break or a snack make a world of difference... for the grownups, too. ;)

  3. Thanks for clarifying that! 5-20 minutes out of every 60 doesn't sound too bad, especially if I can plan my schedule around it. I'd imagine your boys must think it's funny to make you stop what you're doing.