Today’s writer, Angie, lives in Utah with her husband and four children. In the Fall, she will be the PTO president at the charter school her children attend. Below, Angie gives a step-by-step accounting of how she raised the issue of reading logs with her Board of Trustees.
How I Brought the Issue of Reading Logs to the Attention of our Board of Trustees
by Angie, incoming PTO president, Utah
As next year’s PTO (Parent/Teacher Organization) president, I recently had the opportunity to attend a planning meeting with our Board of Trustees, the PTO presidency, and school administration to plan for next year. The members of our Board of Trustees each have children at the school, work untold hours and receive no compensation. I love our school and feel so blessed to have my children there. The practice of the Reading Log, consequently, has baffled me as it does not seem to fit with the culture or philosophy of the school. I have stated my opinion in the yearly surveys, but the
practice has continued since the school opened several years ago.
I asked for time to address Reading Logs and was given 15 minutes on the agenda. Here is a breakdown of my presentation for those who may find it helpful in addressing their own schools:
I. I began by thanking the board for seeking collaboration with us as a PTO and for giving me time to address this issue. I also told them to please feel free to dismiss my thoughts and observations if they did not find them valid.
II. I expressed my concern that Reading Logs may have unintended consequences with regard to our children’s love of reading now and in the future.
a. I shared my observation that students generally seem to be divided into two categories when it comes to Reading Logs. (As I discussed this, several PTO members piped up with, “Sounds like my house!” and “I don’t like reading logs either.”)
i. One group loves to read and loosely records estimates of their minutes. Parents just sign it because they know their child loves to read and are not worried about them recording the exact amount. Also, to accurately track every minute, would one have to “clock out” for bathroom breaks, snacks, and to answer the door or phone? Could that become cumbersome and affect desire to read?
ii. In the second group are children who do not like to read and their parents must force them to do so. I hear parents describe the struggle of getting their kids to do their reading minutes. One parent described it as “pulling teeth.” Some parents use timers “You need to sit on the couch and read until the timer goes off!” before they can go and do something “fun.”
III. I shared two basic principles of psychology I’ve learned from the parenting program I teach (called Love and Logic): “When there are stressful interactions around an activity, a child will associate the activity with stress.” And, “When we feel like something is forced upon us, we feel a loss of control, and our natural inclination is to resist.” One Dad in one of my classes said, “When I was a child, I could not leave the table until I had eaten all of my peas. To this day, I will not eat peas.”
a. I shared examples of my own children and others that illustrated these principles.
b. I asked, “What is our ultimate goal with reading? Is it merely proficiency or is it a lifetime love of reading and learning?
IV. I reviewed Sarah Pak’s Comment #385 describing her research study of mandatory vs. voluntary reading logs and her findings.
V. I described the study of inner city students who were struggling in reading. All of these students had parents who were illiterate. The parents of the experimental group were asked to pretend to read the newspaper each day for a certain length of time. At the end of the research period the students’ scores in the test group went up.
a. This illustrates the importance of parental modeling in shaping children’s attitudes.
i. (I have heard this study described several times, if someone knows where to find the actual study, please post!!!)