Wiggling Readers

Is your child is a fiddler?

Sorry. I don’t mean, “Is your child one who plays a fiddle?”

I mean, “Is your child one who, when trying to read a book, plays with a shoelace (or, God forbid, Velcro!) or incessantly flips the corner of the page or taps a toe against the chair leg or continually adjusts the pillow or fiddles with absolutely anything within reach?”

If this isn’t your child, you should begin doing a gratitude dance right this very second, and when you’re finished with that, you can click out of this post, because this one doesn’t apply to you (you lucky duck).

If it is your child, oh, I feel you. (Yeesh.)

It’s rough, right?

But I can help. I have found that it’s best to share with my kids what I’m observing— exactly what it is that they’re doing. They are often shocked that they’re doing what they’re doing. I know I was.

Story Alert

I have a student for whom I record a video of me reading a portion of a chapter book aloud to my class. Then, I send it home for him to enjoy each evening. This student’s sweet mama, because she loves me, said, “Christy. Your hands are touching your hair an awful lot when you read. You’re such a wonderful reader, and I know that you will be making these videos, and I thought you’d want to know, and since I love you, I’m telling you- the hands and the hair, Sister….”

I love that lady.

The first thing I thought was, “Just think how great of a reader I’ll be when my brain doesn’t have to think about reading AND getting that blasted hair out of my face!

When I can giggle with my students about my idiosyncrasies, they can giggle about theirs, too.

Anyway, I share with my students that all of this seemingly inconsequential movement absolutely does take some of our brainpower away from our reading. It’s kind of like multitasking— which is now recognized as a hindrance to doing things well.

Here’s the deal: We want all of our kids’ focus to be on their reading.

So, when you’re listening to your fiddlers (ahem) readers read, and you’re fearful of going absolutely-outside-your-ever-loving-mind without any hint of belittling, you must simply offer a kind reminder.

I often just place a hand on those fiddling fingers or on that leaping leg— and with a sweet, understanding smile that says “Oh, I know just how you feel,” I look back down to the page, and urge my reader to look to the next word, and the next . . .