Summer is almost here, and school in the traditional sense has already been out for 3 months. We all wish we could participate in our regular activities, and enjoy the sunshine, relaxation, and exploration of summer. Unfortunately with the pandemic, these times are uncertain and frightening. This year the typical summer slip has turned into a much more serious academic slide. More than 100 years of research shows that many children lose up to 3 months of the progress they gained over the school year during the summer months alone. No one has ever calculated the loss of in-person education from early March on, or what might happen if and when schools reopen with new guidelines in the fall. Lost months can easily add up to years. This is due to the adage, “Use it or lose it.” Kids who are not exposed now to quality learning activities at home can lose important reading skills. Fortunately, the slide is not inevitable. Here are some suggestions for addressing it.
- Read, Read, and Read: Read every single day! Books do not have to be challenging to be helpful. It is fine for kids to read chapter books, graphic novels, or even comics. Easy books help students hone 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 often give up. There are comprehensive book suggestion lists online such as http://www.readingrockets.org/calendar/summer, http://www.boysread.org/books.html, http://www.amightygirl.com/books and Reading Resources for Teens from New York Public Library. Schools also often provide summer reading lists, as well. The rule of thumb is this, the more kids read, the better they read. Kids should read at least four to six books over the summer break.
- Form child-parent reading clubs with other interested families. The website: http://www.bhg.com/health-family/school/homework/how-to-start-a-parent-child-book-club/ gives tips for starting book clubs. This will foster a community feeling and deep book conversations.
- Talk to your children about what they are reading and learning. This helps kids realize that what they are learning is interesting and important to you. In addition, extensive conversations about books, in a comfortable setting, really helps kids hone analytical skills.
- Cook or build things with your children that require reading directions: When kids use recipes or directions to construct toys or other items, they realize how important understanding each procedure is. This helps kids to realize the importance of reading slowly and carefully, and forces them to reread any confusing text.
- Read yourself. If your children see that you enjoy and value reading, they are more likely to think it is important. Also, 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, you can discuss the book as you go.
- If traditional vacation spots are closed due to the pandemic, consider an imaginary or future family vacation. Read with your child about the places they might see and the significance of those places. Make plans about the best places to go and why. If you do get to go to parks or beaches, sneak books, as well as puzzles that require reading, into your bag. It is also great if kids journal about what they see and do during this time.
- Kids, in general, love to play on their tablets and computers. Suggest computer games and programs that require reading. Something exactly like Readorium!
- 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 encouragement is invaluable. Books hold treasures of new knowledge and entertainment. Your excitement and engagement will not only prevent a serious academic slide but will convince your kids that reading is a joy.