Gabriel presents me with a dilemma. Here is the dilemma I have been faced with as his teacher.
Gabriel has an amazing brain. I just sit and marvel at him. I want him to continually challenge that brain. I have noticed over the last two years that his vocabulary has not grown much. I put that down to the fact that he has not been reading as far ahead as he had been. His school actually limited his ability to check out books to the books in his grade level and below. He was fine with this and since he was already doing a ton of homework, I did not want to add to it. I did occasionally, but not often.
So, now, as his teacher, I have the primary responsibility of balancing challenge and fun. I understand that he needs to be challenged. I also want him to read for fun. I know that he will always read for fun because he loves it so much. However, when he chooses his own books, he tends to read the same ones over and over (I do, too, so I do understand this). Anyway, I don't want him to miss out on all those great "5th" grade books just because his reading ability is on a high school/college level.
I have compromised. The first solution I found was to create two reading times for him. During the school day, Gabriel has an "assigned" reading time and a "free" reading time. During the assigned reading time (60 min.), he reads what I tell him to (Mara, Daughter of the Nile). Then, I have a set of books set aside for him to read during his free reading time. He can read any of them and if he reads for a full hour and just does not like the book, he doesn't have to continue it the next day. After all, it is free reading. The free reading just has some limits. The second solution I have come up with happened this week when he finished The Iliad. I decided to give his brain a week's break, so we dropped back to his age level reading. Next week, we'll pick it back up. I've decided to combine the two solutions. We're finding it works. Gabriel loves to read, so reading for 2 hours a day is really not enough for him. He usually spends at least another hour reading whatever he wants to.