I’m putting on my teacher hat today. This is something that I think about every year at this time, and since I’m no longer teaching, I can’t spend the last day of school lecturing my students about the importance of reading over the summer, so you get to enjoy my lecture instead.
Did you know that some kids “lose” as much as 2-3 months of reading ability over the summer months? For example, if they ended 4th grade reading at a 4.6 (4th grade, 6th month) they may start 5th grade at 4.3 (4th grade, 3rd month.)
I suspect, for students who already had trouble reading, it’s even worse.
As a Title I teacher, I taught 4th-6th graders who struggled with reading. Unfortunately, the more they struggled, the less time they spent reading. The harder it was for them, the less they liked it.
Many of those students would make progress throughout the school year, only to come back after summer break and see that progress wiped away.
As a teacher, it was so frustrating. I’d work so hard with the student, only to start right back at the beginning the next year. There’s hope, though. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Here are 5 things that you can do to keep your child from experiencing the “summer slide” and possibly make them an even better reader!
1. Help your child develop a LOVE of reading. Read in front of them. Tell them about your favorite book. Show them what you read as a child. Never, ever use reading as a punishment. Make it fun.
2. Read to your child every night. Even if your child is 10, or 12, or 14. If they are a struggling reader, they need to experience fluent reading. They need to experience the joy of being engrossed in a book, without battling every unknown word. They need to know that reading is important enough that you will spend time doing it with them.
3. Take part in your local library’s summer reading program. Most libraries have a weekly “story time” for kids. And if they don’t, make it a point to take your child to the library at least once a week. If this is a new routine, don’t be discouraged if you both feel a bit uncomfortable at first. Just keep going, and you will soon know the library better and feel more comfortable encouraging your child to choose books there.
4. Meet them in the middle. Take their current interests, and find ways to incorporate reading. Does your child love video games? Goodreads has a list of books based on and about video games. Sports? Try a magazine about sports meant for children. A favorite tv show? Many popular shows have a spin-off book series. These books may not be the highest quality literature, but they are better than nothing!
5. Use technology to make it easy and accessible. Use an e-reader or app on your smartphone (or theirs, I guess) so that literature is available to them at any moment of everyday. Give them a giftcard so they can download new books when they want. Then, encourage them to grab every free moment for reading. In the car, on rainy days, etc. etc.
Want more ideas? Check out these links:
Scholastic: Three Ways to Prevent the Summer Slide
Tips to Avoid Summer Learning Loss