Gamification to encourage my daughter to read more
As any regular reader will know, I spend a lot of time gamifying my daughter, in a good way. She has taught me a great deal about what does and doesn’t work in the real world.
Most recently I was trying to encourage her to read more, so decided to test out my EEEE framework with her. She was doing it, but it was a real battle, she found it frustrating and not very enjoyable.
My Daughter, based on observation of how she plays games and acts, is part Free Spirit, part Achiever and part Player. That is to say, she likes to have freedom to choose, explore and be creative. She loves when she understands a new concept and nails it, but she does like to see some kind of reward if it is available.
Keep in mind, that whilst I was doing this, she was still getting books to read from school – books she HAD to read to not get in trouble.
First, I needed to Enrol her into the idea that reading can be fun. I started to build a simple TWINE text adventure that had her and her little sister as the main characters in a story. She had short paragraphs to read and then she had to make a choice on what to do next – you can see the first couple of chapters here..
At the same time as I had her playing the “game”, we were trying to find books she might actually enjoy reading. Also, we tied her reading her school books into her Reward Meter (Click the link to see what I mean). Reading without moaning pushed her towards the 10, moaning and complaining pusher her towards the 0. This was to keep her reading what she HAD to read, whilst finding something she WANTED to read. The game got her into the idea that reading could be fun, and she got excited that the reading also contributed to how we felt she was behaving over all.
Finally, after some trial and error, we found a series (thankfully a very long series) of books that she really liked. She still had to mix reading that with reading her school signed books, but the fact she liked the new books and was no longer scared of the “chore” of reading, meant she started to get into it. At this point, even though she was still only reading when she had to, she was not complaining. Her reward for reading one of the books? The next book in the series, simple as that. We still tied the reading to overall behaviour, but did not make a big deal about it.
It is worth noting that enthuse and engage in this case were very similar in activity – so for all intents and purposes can be considered almost the same phase! During both phases we gave regular, but not excessive, verbal praise.
Finally, last week, the endear phase hit. I found her in a the living room, reading one of her books without anyone asking her to do it! I asked her why she was reading and she answered “Because I want to find out what happens next”. She had found a reason to keep reading because she WANTED to – in this case, curiosity (among other things of course).
Finding the intrinsic reason to keep doing something is the key to all good gamification. In this example, there were no rewards as such. The behaviour meter provided feedback for my daughter, so she understood where she was in out expectations. The extra books were more to enable her to continue to read than they were a reward. We did use verbal praise as well, but we are parents – if we didn’t do that, we would be failing our jobs horribly! However, we don’t praise her for every bit of reading she does, only now if she goes above and beyond the required reading by the school – and then not in an excessive way.
Time will tell if this sticks, but right now – I’m pleased as punch!!!