reading comprehension
Get Results with These Reward Zone Strategies

by Carol Baker

Focus on what you want to accomplish — your child reading enough to become a fluent reader with a great spoken vocabulary. Keeping that in mind, let’s explore how to get your child moving in that direction. Think of all the different incentives in the adult world that get you to do things: a pay check, coupons, advertisements, bonuses, competitions. I bet the ones you rate the highest in satisfaction have two things in common — they were something you really wanted and they were delivered with some level of appreciation if not outright enthusiasm.

For this incentive project, you are in the driver seat. The advantage that you have is an intimate knowledge of the subject — your child. Use this knowledge to motivate and challenge them. Bear in mind that setting and achieving long goals is a new and difficult adventure for them. Be flexible — the last thing you want to do is to fail because you overwhelmed the child with an ultimatum they felt was beyond their ability. Keep their feelings and perspective in mind.

Here are some of my favorite strategies:

The Buy-in

Some children need a little assurance. Some need a little wake up. There is nothing wrong with sweetening the pot in the very beginning, if it gets them in the program. Tee shirts are a popular item at the Reward Zone for getting the ball rolling. Particularly if other classmates have them already and it helps them feel comfortable in the reading group.

The Sweetheart

Some little darlings would do anything to please you — but sometimes they just daydream the time away. Reading companions and a special reading place with reading things is a great strategy for them. Fleeces and bears make wonderful companions and set the proper tone for reading. They make reading important and provide a steady reminder to read. If this is your reader, visit the Reward Zone and set up the reading nook on day one.

The Atta-boy

A reading journey that spans a 100 books/chapters and starts in September and reaches to June is no small feat for your child. You need to be on the alert for goal fatigue. After 25 and 50 book milestones children will be enjoying the reading — but the 100 book goal seems too far away. Because of their young age, they only have a short window into the future. June might as well be 2050 as far as they are concerned. A great strategy in this case is a surprise gift with the message “we see how much you are working and we love what you are doing.” Keep them going.

The Candy Store

The Reward Zone products are selected to appeal to young readers. Use this to your advantage. Goal setting may be new to children, but browsing the Reward Zone for their favorite items is a great way to ease into the conversation and stack the deck in your favor. Visit often to keep their interest stoked.

The Carrot

The end goal of 100 books/chapters warrants the “big” Reward Zone item they have been working towards for months. Make sure that the child is involved in selecting the item that they are in love with to get the most motivation. (Be flexible as they may have a change of heart over time.) To nurture the child’s challenge/goal development present as something earned. Not a gift, but the result of their time, effort and dedication in achieving something difficult and important.

The Village

Grandparents, each parent and older siblings have their own “deals” with the reader. Each participants keys on a different reading plateau goal. This strategy encircles the reader with encouragement and reading buddies. Encourage the participants to visit the Reward Zone with the reader and listen to him set his aspirations. “Grandmom is going to get me a fleece we can use when I read. Daddy said if I read 25 books I could have my own Katie Bear…”

Mix and match the strategies and devise your own. If you come up with an effective strategy, send me an email or Facebook me. I would like to hear what worked for your reader — and it just might be helpful for another family, too!