Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Reading Rewards

Bubby is in 1st grade.  Bubby, and his classmates, are expected to read or be read to at home for at least 15 minutes a day.  His teacher has helpfully provided us with a calendar on which to keep track of his reading minutes.  And every month, if he turns in his calendar, regardless of whether or not he's met his goal, he is offered a reward.

Now in defense of the 1st grade teaching team, between the two of them, they have 6 children, 83% of whom are girls.  They're used to girls.  They are more intimately familiar with girls.  They are teachers, however, and teach both boys and girls in approximately equal numbers.  And, as working mothers, at least during the school year, they do spend more time with their students than with their children.  One would think (I would think), that they would know how to offer suitable rewards for both boys and girls.

But no!  The reading reward for March, which is set to take place on April 7?  Dress up day.  And not even dress up day as in dress up in a costume, or dress up in mom or dad's clothes.  Dress up day as in, wear nice clothes, like those one might wear to church, or a graduation, or a job interview, or something.

No even kidding.  Dress.  Up.  Day.  And ... wait for it ... a tea party.

I don't want you to think I'm sexist, because I know that there are boys who like to dress up and there are boys who like to have tea parties, but I have never personally met any of them.  And, as the mother of 3 boys, I have met a lot of boys.

For my particular boy, this reward is more akin to torture.  In fact, when I told him what the reading reward was for this month, he told me he wasn't going to turn his calendar in.  And I have to say, as much as he does not want to wear good clothes to school, I doubly don't want him to!  The kid is rough on clothes, and sending him to a place where he's going to be playing with other boys, outside, where there is asphalt, trees, rocks, and all manner of other sharp things, for at least part of the day, does not bode well for the knees of his nice church pants.

Not exactly the reward his teacher's going for--definitely not a strong motivation to read.  I told her as much.  In those words: "this reward is more like torture for Bubby."  And then I went on to query, "when is the you-get-to-play-active-games-all-day reward?"  She laughed.  Or did the digital equivalent of a laugh, since we were communicating via email.  I'm not quite sure why most, if not all, of these supposed rewards have been so blatantly girl oriented.  Probably because they're easier, and less disruptive, to execute.


I'm not sure what will happen with Bubby's reading calendar this month, if it will make its way to the teacher's desk or if it is destined to be delegated into a crumpled mess in the bottom of Bubby's backpack.  I do suspect, however, that when I inform him that the tea party includes cupcakes, made by cupcake baker extraordinaire J, and yours truly, that might sway Bubby's opinion on the matter.

I'll keep you posted.

Your turn: do you know any boys who enjoy tea parties?  What would you offer as a reading reward?


  1. That is an odd reward. I'm not sure that 100% of the girls in the class want a dress-up "tea party" either. I don't have girls, but remembering back to when I was close to that age, I think there were at least as many "Tom-boy" girls and there were "Girly-girls". To be fair ... that was a long long long time ago.

  2. I am sure they only were trying to be creative and make school fun. I remember having a tea party when I taught 1st grade and talking about England. The boys enjoyed it. I know these 2 teachers put a lot into what they do- so be gentle. Just like parents, teachers try their best and are hurt when they are criticized for doing what they thought would be a good idea. I am sure they know some will not chose to dress up so don't have him dress up. (Personally, I am tired of sports days but I let others have their fun.)

    1. Well, there you go. You've definitely met more boys than me!

      Mary, I hope you know that I hold you, Bubby's teacher, and all of your colleagues in high esteem, and I take every opportunity to support you and your work. I am so thankful for the essential role that you play in my kids' lives, in forming them into who they will be.

      You're right. All of you are doing your best to make learning fun--and you're doing a pretty terrific job. The teaching team doesn't have to offer reading rewards at all, and in fact, with everything they have to cover, it's amazing that they take the time. I just think it's kind of funny that I've had to wheedle and cajole Bubby into participating in most, if not all, of the reading rewards this year. In his case, the rewards are not motivating, and this one was actually kind of demotivating, until I mentioned cupcakes. It's definitely more about him than about them though ...


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