I have read many tweets about AR lately and thought I would share my family’s experience with it. My son Luke is in second grade and loves reading. This has not always been the case. He started AR in first grade and went from enjoying reading books with me as a toddler to being forced to read stories to me. I blindly followed the advice of his teacher to have him read each book twice each night. It turned into a power struggle between us and he hated it. The books were boring and mostly non-fiction nonsense about eating fruit and vegetables or brushing your teeth or something. He always choose the shortest, easiest books he could find.
Luke made his goals, but hated every minute of it. I partially blame AR, but also myself for pushing too hard. I think he would rather of had me still read interesting stories to him than reading himself. About half way through the year I backed off and Luke read less, but still met his goals. Over the summer he read some but not really that much.
Now in second grade (and still in AR), I continued to not push him to read and he has now taken off.
These things have been music to my ears. Again I can not place all of the blame on AR, but it is definitely a “system” set up to push kids in reading with artificial rewards. There is nothing about AR that was positive or helpful for helping my son learn to read. I think reading is best learned naturally when a child is ready by reading to your child until they are willing to read themselves. Then all that is needed is exposure to lots of interesting books and stories.
I am not a literacy expert by any means but this natural, common sense approach seems the best route to me. What do you think?