Once you start working as an elementary school teacher, you may quickly realize that one of the keys to a student’s success is literacy. It’s important for kids to be able to read at the appropriate grade level and to demonstrate reading comprehension. Developing strategies that inspire kids to read and make connections to the material will be well worth your time.
Did someone say fun? Since we’re talking about kids in elementary school, efforts to promote reading should definitely be fun. Listed here are three ideas to get you started:
- Begin a “reading for rewards” program. This type of initiative can work for all ages. Scholastic offers Scholastic Reading Counts!, which is a leveled book program with online reading comprehension quizzes. Students can earn points based on quiz performance and many schools reward various point goals with prizes like book fair gift certificates and local bookstore gift cards. If your school doesn’t want to invest in Scholastic’s program, it’s often perfectly fine for teachers to run their own reading contests within their classrooms. Keep in mind that incentives don’t have to be prizes; some homemade reading programs incorporate an end-of-the-year ceremony where the students’ page totals are announced to an audience.
- Be creative with book reports. Even though book reports may be best suited for older students, it’s still possible to inject some fun into the process. One idea is to allow students to choose their own books and then set a theme for the report. For example, provide a paper sandwich to each student with instructions to write 2 – 3 sentences per piece of bread, lettuce, cheese, etc. Another option is to have the students write their reports in comic book form with drawings and word bubbles.
- Partner with the school’s librarian or media specialist. Students will hopefully visit their school library at least once a week. You’ll likely find that allowing kids to discover the fun of browsing through bookshelves is a great way to inspire a love of reading. Talk to the librarian about ways to further engage the students. For instance, students in all grades can be encouraged to try a wide variety of books by giving them a paper “menu” that lists two or three categories of books to locate. Once the kids find the books, give them time to sit down and look through each one. Then, ask them to write a few words about what they like or don’t like about each book.
Be creative and try to develop a range of strategies geared toward reading and comprehension. The ideas above are meant to be a jumping off point and can hopefully help with brainstorming. Again, reading is often the key to a successful learning experience for a student. Teachers are tasked with finding numerous ways to promote reading while inspiring kids to want to do it. Take the time to develop fun and interesting literacy incentives and you’ll likely be pleased with the result.