I have one child that loves to read. She truly has her nose in a book at all times. I have one child that doesn’t enjoy reading. Not one bit. He stumbles with questions pertaining to what he read. We have tried everything from comic books to lacrosse catalogs. Reading is not his thing.
Per past teachers’ suggestions we set aside reading time each day, hoping that it will help. His grades are not bad at all. But as parents, we don’t want it to get to the point where he struggles. For myself, I love to read, so it’s difficult to imagine someone not enjoying it, or “getting” it. How can the child of a passionate reader and writer not like reading?
But my husband, he doesn’t like to read. Through the years I have gifted him coffee table books on Nascar and the NY Giants, and yes, even beer. All the while believing that because it was the subjects he loved, it would pop open some magic window of reading love for him. Nope. Those books sit silently on a bookcase, waiting for the day that someone picks them up. I should have known there is no forcing it.
My son loves his iPad though. He loves the video games. We limit game time during the school year to Friday through Sunday because he will just sit there and play endlessly. Those long video game playing sessions affect his mood big time later on in the day, and even the next day. The other day we had to take his sister to her guitar lesson in the next town, where I usually just wait the 30 minutes in the car. He begged for his electronics, but I said “No”. I told him to use his imagination. “Make up a game, we’ll play it later” was what I said.
For the next few hours he thought out loud, drew up his game board, made up the directions, and even built little figures with Legos. This kid was vibrating with pure joy. It was beautiful to witness.
Later on after dinner I sat on the floor and played the game with him. There were about two pages of rules and player stats that he had made up – here’s the thing – this boy remembered everything. He never had to go back and reread what he had drawn up hours earlier. There was a lot of information and the game was pretty intricate. I was impressed by his memory, his imagination and his passion in that moment. Did I want to play? No. I’ll be totally honest. It was not my type of game, but I shut my mouth and just sat, present and accounted for – listening to him, watching him, playing this game that he created straight from his heart and imagination.
I fully put myself in the moment, just being with him and this game he created. In that time I realized his strengths. In that time I saw that forcing this kid to read wasn’t going to bring him closer to be the better reader that I thought he should be. He is an inventor, at least for now. He learns by using his hands and that joy I witnessed fueled his creativity, just as that creativity fueled his joy.
This is the essence of what I hope for my boy’s future.
EVERY kid, EVERY ONE has strengths. If we spent more time watching and paying attention we would see those and feed those.
Gina Wieboldt is a full on- lifelong Jersey Girl. You can find her on the beach with the kids. Health and wellness became her primary focus and she attended the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She is now a Certified Health Coach and Healthy Living Warrior. You can find her chatting healthy things on Instagram and Twitter at @GinaWieboldt