I have a confession to make… I was a manipulative mom. It’s okay, the secret’s been out for years. My daughter and I joke about it now. As a single mom, I threw up my hands in frustration one day. I was sick and didn’t want to get out of bed, so off the cuff I looked at my daughter and said “you be the mom today”. And she did.
For her it was better than playing with her dolls and she did great. I even was given a cool new kid name “Bella” (short for Belladonna… as in Belladonna Took, the matriarch of Bilbo and Frodo’s family from The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings). You just can’t argue with that!
After that, anytime I needed to get my daughter to do something that I thought I would get resistance on, I would flip positions and it worked every time. (Sorry Kid.) I’m also very fluent in the theory that one of the best ways to learn something is to teach it.
As you may already know from some of my other posts, I homeschooled my daughter. For a couple of years I also tutored my neighbor’s son in junior high and high school (further developing my enjoyment of homeschooling – but I digress). The two of them had a bit of a sibling relationship back then, so while he and I were working together Kid wanted to know all about what he did.
Tutoring him was a great way for me to get refreshed on the more advanced things that I hadn’t used since school myself. It allowed me to prep myself for what lie ahead in my homeschooling. Then as he would show her what we had been working on, you could see the little “aha” moments flash across his face as things took on deeper meaning. It worked the same for both of us.
Fast forward to today…
I found the most amazing link passed on by John Tesh on Facebook, highlighting this great program started at the Animal Rescue League of Berks County, PA called Book Buddies. In a word… genius!
As with most shelters, they welcome volunteers to come in and spend time with the animals. The shelter workers and working volunteers have so much to do with the running of the facility that it’s hard to spend time with the animals and it’s best to keep them well socialized.
While some folks will come in and play with the dogs, not many will spend time with the cats. (If you’ve ever had a cat you know how much they need quality time.) In addition, if you’ve ever had a dog imagine how it would react you coming to play with it for a half an hour and then leaving it mostly in a crate or a kennel for a week until you return. (Get exited and wait!) Doesn’t make for a fun mental picture, it’s more like teasing. And it’s hard on the folks that work there when they’re getting all riled up and the visitors leave.
Now I’d like you to add another mental image… your choice. Arguing once again with your child to do their nightly reading to practice, or…. better practice your reading so you can read the books to the dogs and cats when we visit them this week/month. Better, right?
It’s a calm way to visit the animals and really spend time with them without getting them riled up, and most of all let them have the quiet personal time that only pets in a home get to have. Sure it’s a great motivator to get your child reading but the truly amazing part is that it cultivates compassion and a sense of service as well.
While this shelter’s program rewards the kids for how many books they read, you can reward your child just as easily. They also get to spend time with you and make some great memories while they’re doing a great service; that’s the best silver lining of all!
If your local shelter doesn’t have a program like this one, consider starting one! Talk to you favorite Scout troop and suggest this as a service project or perhaps to gather some books to donate so that others may be inspired to read to the fur babies waiting for a home too.
I love ideas of giving!