Summer is almost here. It is a time for sunshine, vacation, play, relaxation, and exploration which unfortunately often leads to a serious academic slide. Over 100 years of research show that many children lose up to 3 months of the progress they gained over the school year during these summer months. The summer slide is not inevitable. Here are some suggestions for reversing it.
- Read, Read, and Read: Read every single day! Libraries often have wonderful summer reading programs, and it is important that kids choose books that they enjoy. Kids can read fiction or nonfiction, plays, poems, mysteries and adventures. It is fine for them to read books that are easy because easy books help students hone their fluency and comprehension skills. The real danger is for kids to be forced to read books that they find too difficult or frustrating. When that happens, kids tend to decide reading is boring and they often give up.
- Form child-parent reading clubs with other interested families. It is important for children to enjoy sustained reading by completing entire books. In addition, extensive conversations about books in a comfortable setting really help students hone analytical skills. Kids should read at least four to six books over the summer break.
- Talk to your children about what they are reading and learning. Fostering deep conversations about books helps kids realize that what they are learning is interesting and important to you.
- Cook or build things with your kids that require reading directions: This not only fosters slow and careful reading but demonstrates the importance of reading to children. When kids use recipes or directions to construct toys or other items, they realize how important it is to understand every procedure.
- Read yourself. If your children see that you enjoy and value reading, they are more likely to think it is important.
- Cuddle up with your children and read to them. Even older kids enjoy being read to, and it is valuable for them. If you are reading aloud, discuss the book as you go.
- Include reading in any vacation you take. Read with your children about the places they will see and the significance of those places. Read and discuss informational signs with your kids when you sightsee. This will broaden their background knowledge and give them greater insight into the importance of what they are experiencing.
- Listen to audio books during long car rides, and sneak books, as well as puzzles that require reading, into your bag when heading to the beach or the park. It is also great if kids journal about what they see and do during vacations.
- Suggest computer games and programs that require reading. Kids, in general love to play on their tablets and computers
- Make sure there are books (and a flashlight) within your child's reach from bed. Sneaking under the blankets with a flashlight (especially when they know they are supposed to be sleeping) is one sure way to make reading more fun for kids.
To help your child become a lifelong reader and learner, your summer reading encouragement is invaluable. Books hold treasures of new knowledge and entertainment. Your excitement and engagement will not only prevent the summer slide, but will convince your kids that reading is a joy.
Harriet Isecke, a literacy expert and award-winning educator and author, is the CEO of Readorium. Readorium is an interactive online program that teaches kids strategies for understanding nonfiction, as it guides them through science books that automatically adjust to their reading level as they use the program. Parents can view their children’s progress 24/7. Readorium is serious reading played like a game!