As parents, we try to protect our children with immunizations, sunscreen, bicycle helmets, seat belts, and good health habits. But what can we do to prevent “summer slide” - academic loss that occurs over the summer- and instead, foster “summer gain?”
Research shows that leisure reading is the best predictor of comprehension, vocabulary, and reading speed. Regardless of ethnicity, socioeconomic level, or previous achievement, children who read four or more books over the summer perform better on reading-comprehension tests in the fall than their peers who read one or no books over the summer. Academic losses over the summer months are cumulative, creating a wider gap each year between more proficient and less proficient students.
To encourage summer academic gain, and more importantly, to instill lifelong reading habits in your children, model reading for your children. Having parents who model strong reading habits at home has a greater impact on kids’ reading frequency than does household income.
- Make sure they see you reading for pleasure on vacation, in the evenings at home, and throughout the day.
- When you travel, let your children gather travel brochures, read menus, and maps (or Google directions), and listen to audiobooks in the car or on the plane.
- Consider gift wrapping a book and surprising your child with a book as an “I love you” gift, a tooth fairy gift, or a happy summer present.
- Spend a few hours browsing together at a local book store, or go to your local public library and let your child get her/his own library card and use it weekly this summer. An overwhelming 92% of kids say they are more likely to finish a book they picked out themselves, so offer them lots of reading choices.
- Try popcorn reading, where everyone takes turns reading paragraphs aloud. Graphic novels are popular and are fun to read together by assigning characters and reading their dialogue with expression.
- Read together at the pool during swim breaks, at the beach, and of course, every night at bedtime. Give your child a flashlight to keep by the bed for special flashlight reading time.
It is also important to keep those writing skills sharp over the summer months.
- Give children“real-life” reading/writing activities such as writing grocery lists, weekly schedules, chore lists, or postcards.
- Set up a writing center stocked with colored markers and pencils, post-its, paper for writing and drawing, and encourage them to make comic books, flip books, write letters, or keep a summer diary.
- Download apps such as Puppet Pals, Buncee, Lego Movie Maker, and Tellagami, that are for easy for elementary students to use for content creation, while strengthening writing and reading skills.
- Tell stories, jokes and riddles around the fire pit or campfire this summer
And be sure to check out your school’s summer reading guide for suggestions for all reading levels. Start summer reading and writing activities as soon as school is out and encourage it every day until we are back in school again in September! Have a wonderful summer filled with stories, memories and family fun.