Summer Reading - 6 Ways to Build Your Child's Reading

Summertime ‘21’ is finally here! The last 15 months have been an experience and are finally behind us. Summer for our children means more time to play, go on a family vacation (after the shutdowns of last year), or to a summer camp., schedule a few sleepovers at a friend’s house, play some summertime sports, swim, and get back to some normalcy!

While it’s important that we take time to relax and unwind this summer, as parents we must realize that many of our children are behind in their academic skills due to the school shutdowns and COVID restrictions.   Summer ‘21’ is an important time to help your kids catch up academically, especially our young children. As good-intentioned parents, we need to make sure that our itinerary includes some quality time for your child to read and write.

Summer learning loss, or the “Summer Slide” is a well-documented phenomenon.  Statistics show that young children typically lose nearly two months of reading achievement over the summer. That’s a foreboding statistic considering what our children have just experienced with the COVID crisis over the ‘20-21’ school year. Many students are behind normal levels entering this summer, add the typical summer slide into the equation, and many of our young readers will be struggling next fall. 
 
Over time, that summer learning slide can add up to the equivalent of three years of reading loss by the end of the fifth grade. And the emotional impact on your child can lead to bad behavior and lack of confidence.

This summer especially is a critical time when students can either catch up and leap ahead or fall behind even further when it comes to their reading and writing skills. Without continuing practice during the summer, they will regress and end up walking into the next school year perhaps even further behind. We want our kids to succeed, but we’ve often pulled in so many directions during the summer that it seems we blink, and its late July and realize little Johnny hasn’t read anything of substance since May.

What can be done to curb summer reading loss?

The value we place on reading at home has a significant effect on our children’s reading success (Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998). It is crucial that we support reading development for our kids over the summer. The value of modeling reading for children cannot be emphasized enough. We don’t want to send the message that reading is a chore: something that must be finished before one can proceed to more active and enjoyable pursuits. Work reading into every day, make it a game, and make it FUN! Create a positive climate for reading so that children look forward to reading.

6 effective ways to keep your child on track during the summer

  1. Place a value on literacy in the home when the children are away from school. Don’t just make reading about school, make it an adventure and show them how much you enjoy reading.   Let them realize all the knowledge and opportunities reading can uncover.
  2. Make sure quality reading materials are available.  Books, magazines, articles, newspapers.  In our digital-only world it can be easy to overlook actual ink and paper!  Having a “real” book or magazine can make a huge difference.
  3. Read alouds, during the day and at bedtime.
  4. Send the message to your children that reading and writing is fun – not a chore.
  5. Create a positive climate for reading.  Create a “reading corner” with a beanbag, or your child’s special chair.  Someplace they are able to focus and enjoy their reading time.
  6. Enroll your child in a summer reading program.  Consider enrolling your child in a summer reading program.  The structure, consistency, and social interaction of a summer program may be just what they need, and want.
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