Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Aidan's voracious appetite for reading continues to delight me. He's taken to reading books on the long ride home on the school bus, and even reading while walking the whole way home!!! He walked right past our house one afternoon because he was so engrossed in the adventures of Jack and Annie of the beloved Magic Treehouse series.
I try not to be a braggart parent, but what good is a blog if not for a little bragging here and there? Recently Aidan's teacher called me about when I could come in and volunteer in the classroom. I mentioned how much Aidan enjoyed her class, and for the second year in a row, his teacher said to me, "Oh, if only I could have an entire room full of Aidans!"
I felt great validation and satisfaction over a deliberate parenting choice Jeff and I have made. By and large, we do not use extrinsic motivators of any kind with our kids. (Exceptions included M&M's during potty training and recently, a trip to the ice cream store after a particularly painful shot) As a teacher, I am firmly against the use of extrinsic motivators; my philosophy of teaching, much like my philosophy of parenting, is that intrinsic motivation is the driving force behind success. Reading is its own reward; a job well done should result in satisfaction and self-pride, not a prize; high expectations, without extrinsic rewards, leads to healthy, happy, self-confident, productive people. At Aidan's school, they use a positive reinforcement behavior plan which I support wholeheartedly - positive reinforcement is an excellent method. Students are recognized for their good behavior and earn tickets that can be redeemed at the Star Store. Last year, much to my dismay, Aidan came home week after week with absolute junk - crappy toys, cheap blow-up animals, beaten-up stuffed animals. Much to my relief, the novelty eventually wore off and at the end of the year he was left with a hundred or so unredeemed tickets. I raised my concerns at a PTO meeting and suggested that items sold in the school store should support the school concept - markers, crayons, folders, cool pens and pencils; the "top shelf" items could be - gasp - BOOKS!! My suggestions were met with some enthusiasm and some skepticism; I let the matter go, and decided this was not a battle I was willing to fight.
Imagine my surprise and delight when Aidan came home from school after his first trip to the Star Store and announced what he had "bought" that day - the opportunity to have lunch with one of the assistant principals!! My boy chose to have lunch with a principal over all the other stuff that was available to him. I felt proud and happy, both because Aidan had made such a wonderful choice all on his own, and because the school, in one small part, had listened and responded to my suggestion. Although there is still a lot of junk being sold, there are also crayons, markers, folders -- and the opportunity to have lunch with a principal.