Monday, December 23, 2013

Widen the Options to Make Choices Easy

I find myself frustrated at restaurants who offer pages and pages of menu choices. If I can't find something I like in the first five or six options, then that's my problem. My logic is that a restaurant can only do so many things really well. I limit myself now when I go out to stop searching at the first dish that catches my attention.

Chip Heath and Dan Heath, the authors of Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work, contend that in most cases widening our options lead to better decision making. They claim narrow framing to be "the first of our villains of decision making."

Too often we look at options yes/no or one item or course of action versus another. We limit ourselves by thinking there is only one right possibility. Parents and educators fall into this trap when it comes to literacy. We have a habit of labeling certain things "not real reading."

I found with my own son no easier way to turn him as a young reader off of reading than telling him what he had to read. I was saying what he liked -- Calvin & Hobbes, Guinness Book of Records -- was wrong. The truth is you can develop literacy skills to an extent reading the back of cereal box.

Let's widen our view; let's widen the label of reading. We need to encourage an excitement for written word wherever you see it.


In play, for example, use toy cars with stop and yield signs. Even signs with symbols rather than words are teaching important reading and communication concepts. You're giving building blocks to the young reader to be.

Widen the options for the budding readers. There is a dinosaur kid, a car kid, and a princess kid in every classroom. Make sure they feel valued with their interests.

Then, follow up. Show you're watching and that you're interested in what they are doing and learning.

Every child can become a reader. Let's help them by avoiding the mistake of putting children in the position where the only alternative to the uninteresting option is not reading at all.

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