The Importance of Reading and Writing During Summer Break
Have you heard of the “summer slide”? This phrase refers to the phenomenon that the average student loses the equivalent of up to one month of instruction during the summer months. Disadvantaged students might lose even more. Research on summer reading habits demonstrates that regular reading during the hot months has a significant impact on later academic success (http://www.nysl.nysed.gov/libdev/summer/research.htm). In order to make sure that your child’s only summer slide is a water slide, follow these tips on summer reading.
Visit Your Local Library: If you’ve got little ones, make library visits part of your regular summer rotations. You’ll definitely appreciate the air conditioning when the temperature soars. Many libraries have summer reading programs. If the library is inconvenient, take out several books at a time when you do go, or consider ordering a stock online. If your child is old enough, be sure to make him or her part of the book selection process.
Access to Enjoyable Books: The best way to make kids hate reading? Force them to read books they don’t like. The best way to encourage it? Let them read what they want (within reason). Research shows that voluntary reading increases when kids have the ability to select their own books. (http://www.nysl.nysed.gov/libdev/summer/research.htm) Remember, reading in general sharpens the mind. Sure, you’d rather your high schooler takes Shakespeare to the pool instead of Game of Thrones, but pick your battles. Argue too much and you might put him or her off entirely. In addition, books should match children’s skill level. They risk getting bored if the books are too easy, and frustrated if they’re too difficult.
Be Creative. If for some reason your child doesn’t like books, why not try magazines? Magazines exist for a wide range of interests, from The Sun (fiction) to National Geographic (nature and culture) to Sports Illustrated (this one’s obvious). And reading websites still counts as reading.
Set a Good Example. It’s hard to preach the gospel of reading if your own primary recreational activity is watching television. If TV or the internet dominate your family time, consider setting aside one night per week as tech-free night, where the activities include reading silently, reading aloud, and/or discussing what you’re reading.
Conversation. Speaking of discussion…discussing the stories your child is reading is a great way to connect, whether or not you’re actually reading the books together. For little ones, try asking them about the characters in the story you just read. Which ones did he/she like best? Why did they do what they did, or feel how they felt? For independent readers, explore why they’ve chosen the books that they have.
What are some ways you encourage your children to keep reading over the summer months?
Photo courtesy of Flickr:
Photo courtesy of Flickr: