The system worked. The deal was simple: boys, you want to watch TV, play your video games, borrow my iPhone, fine. But you have to read, too. At *least* an equal amount of time.  That’s how Reading Rewards was born, and it was a very simple system that worked brilliantly.

They wanted to watch TV, so they had to read. We spent time picking and choosing the best books for them. We started ‘family reading time’ in the evening: every night at 8pm, we all got together in the living room to read together. They started reading more, and the more they read, the more they wanted to read. It was self-fulfilling, and I thought: a-ha! I’ve found the magic formula!

But life got busy again, and we ‘relaxed’ our rules. I started consulting work for clients again, while still trying to work on my website. While I carried on with bedtime stories with my youngest, we started leaving the boys to themselves a bit more. It seemed there was always ‘a favorite show’ they just had to watch, and by the time it was finished, they were too tired to read.

A couple of weeks ago, my younger guy got an iPod touch. At around the same time I realized how much he was struggling with Book 4 in the Harry Potter series, which I discussed here. Between the iPod and all their ‘favorite’ shows, I realized they have not finished a book in weeks (except for those that are for school).

How did this happen? Here I am, working so hard on a program designed to get kids reading, and I’ve ignored the nagging little voice inside my head that was saying: hey, what’s going on, why aren’t the boys reading?

So tonight, I laid down the law again, and was pleased to see I got no resistance from them.

Soooo… As of today, they are allowed TV in the morning, for a few minutes while we get their breakfast ready. They get 15-30 minutes ‘wind-down’ time after school before homework, piano and supper. Anything more, they have to earn by reading. They were happy we decided to do this again, I think they must have missed our old routine. Of course we’re tracking it all on 🙂

What do you think about our TV time rules? Too much, still? Have you had to lay down the law about screen time in your household?