Summer vacation isn’t all fun and games (even if it should be). Have a plan to avoid the proverbial ‘summer slide.’
Summer break is almost here with its family vacations, trips to the pool, and lazy days. But what parents might not realize is that three months away from school can cause your child to suffer from the ‘summer slide’—a term used to describe the lost of educational ground that results from the long break. Its detrimental effects can lower your child’s reading skills and causes lost learning time in the fall, as teachers have to spend the start of the school year reviewing instead of covering new material.
Three local teachers share their best tips and ideas on how to motivate your student to keep up their good reading habits all summer long.
Melissa Schwiesow, Literacy Leader at Grandview Elementary, suggests parents set a goal right at the beginning of summer. You can start by figuring out whether you’re going to track how many minutes you’ve read or how many books. Then decide how you’re going to track it.
“I did a paper chain link with my daughter. We added another link to it every time she finished a book,” Schwiesow explained. “You could do a chart instead, but make it visual.”
Remember your attitude towards reading plays a big part in their view of it. Let them see you reading. It instills the concept that “reading is important to you and kids like to model after mom and dad,” Schwiesow said.
“Getting high school students to read is an equal challenge,” says Mary Kron, Douglas High School English Teacher, “unless there is a lifestyle of reading established at home, and then it comes more naturally.”
Kron said she is willing to give high school students extra credit at the start of the year if they could prove, for instance, in a documented journal, they had read all summer.
For older kids, incorporating technology can keep them engaged. Have them make videos or commercials about the book they read. Or, have them check out the author’s website to learn more. Some authors and illustrators have activities or printouts.
Next, “if your child is having difficulty finding a book, use Amazon.com to discover new material,” advises Shelly Stainbrook, Literacy Leader at Grandview Elementary. “You can do searches by age ranges and popularity, then read the customer reviews and excerpts of the book (to help you and your child decide on a title for your child to read).”
Don’t forget the non-fiction books. Some children, who might not be huge fiction readers, will devour non-fiction books on topics they love. A way to make reading come alive is to incorporate the real world.
Each teacher agrees that taking advantage of your local library for a summer reading program is a great way to stay up to par during the off months of school. Oftentimes, there are activities and events to participate in and rewards for students completing reading logs.
“There are a lot of cool places to visit or do around here to make connections to what they’re reading,” Schwiesow suggested.
Last piece of advice from the teachers—keep it fun. It’s still summer and reading shouldn’t feel like homework.
DID YOU KNOW?
Research spanning 100 years shows students typically score lower on standardized tests after summer vacation than they do on the same test at the beginning of summer. Have a reading plan to follow this year.