Making Reading Part of Your Summer Plan
We're about halfway through summer, and it's been a blast! While you're enjoying time by the pool, family road trips, and barbeques, don't forget about incorporating reading into your plans! Kindergarten teacher Ms. Dajczak discusses why it's so important, and how to make this an easy addition to your summer schedule.
Ah, summer. The season of swimming, cookouts, and nights under the stars.
Summer is also a time when school’s out and kids are looking for things to do. As they gravitate towards those video games and Avengers movies, you think about the “summer slide” that your neighbor mentioned the other day. You picture those rich vocabulary words and algebra equations slowly falling out of your child’s ears. We can’t let this happen. In this blog, I’ll help you find some easy ways to make reading (which, in turn, can help with math) part of your summer plan!
But Why Reading?
While your child is enjoying this well-deserved time of rest, it’s also important for them to keep learning! Summer is a great time for fun reading, rather than school-related work. Educational company Scholastic noted the following:
“A more recent study of children in 3rd to 5th grades also showed that students lost, on average, about 20 percent of their school-year gains in reading and 27 percent of their school-year gains in math during summer break.” (Austrew, Ashley)
Yikes! Curious about some other factors related to that summer slide?
Due to their stage of development, younger children are at a greater risk. Younger students rapidly learn new content, then plateau.
The summer slide is more likely to affect low-income students. The pitfalls of summer slide will linger for years to come.
Students that experience a significant amount of academic loss over one summer, are likely to lose additional strides the following year.
The amount of academic achievement during the school year will not decrease the amount of learning loss.
How can we solve this dilemma? Summer is a great time to demonstrate reading for pleasure, while reinforcing those key literacy skills.
Plan Family Reading Times
If you follow our blog regularly, you’ll notice that we stress family reading times a lot, especially during breaks (including summer). Sharing your Wordle score and reading off your husband’s “honey do” list isn’t exactly family reading time. But have your child catch you doing these things!
Demonstrate how one can get wrapped up in an enticing story. Make it mysterious, where your child wants to know what you're reading and why. Yeah, sure, that includes the obnoxiously long flyers at the grocery store. As they observe your reading patterns, children will typically model them.
Plan small chunks of time for everyone to sit down and read. Better yet, have your student plan these small chunks of time. Give them those opportunities to socialize and enjoy their summer, with the control over their own learning.
How Reading Times Impact Relationships
Now let’s talk about relationships. In an article by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, children’s author Mem Fox noted the following about family bonding with reading:
“Parents get to know their children’s character, and children get to know their parents. There’s a fondness that develops that’s just gorgeous.”
Gorgeous. A gorgeous relationship with your child. Doesn’t that sound, well, gorgeous?! At a young age, children are often exposed to the “theater of the lap,” a warm, embracing time where caregivers and children listen to a story and look at pictures. As those children grow, reading together and discussing stories can jump start an array of conversations. It opens a window of opportunity to really hear about your child’s opinions and thoughts. This makes the gateway for key problem-solving skills and comprehension at a higher level.
Designate Reading Times — and Make Them Fun!
“No, you can’t go to the pool with Jimmy. You are supposed to read for 20 minutes everyday from 11-11:30.”
If reading in the summer is approached like this, that child will likely pretend to read for those 20 minutes, then rocket out the door to his friends. We don’t want to develop a negative stigma around summer reading. It should be something that they feel a sense of control over. This includes scheduling the time for the day, and choosing the books. Taking the time to go to the library once a week gives a young reader a sense of control too. Sometimes, it takes uncovering that one enticing book to spark a love of exploring new stories.
Dr. Alice Sullivan, a professor at the University of London, studied how reading for pleasure affects cognitive development over time, and found that this type of reading affects academic performance. According to the Sydney Morning Herald:
“Dr. Sullivan found that children who read books regularly at 10 years of age and more than once a week at 16 years of age performed better at school. Arguably even more important than academic performance, you want your kid to grow up to be a reader because readers have better mental health and healthier relationships.” (Edwards, Kasey).
Along with those mental health skills, reinforcing reading can positively impact your child’s and math skills too. All you have to do is sit back, relax, and model reading a book. Here are some easy, fun ways to make this happen throughout the summer:
- Make a family book club! One family member chooses a kid-friendly book for everyone to read each week. (I hope you enjoy Captain Underpants!)
- Blend it in with your lunch at the pool. You can’t swim after you eat, anyway!
- Many movies come from amazing books! Reinforce reading with family movie nights with classics such as Where the Wild Things Are, Harry Potter, James and the Giant Peach, and countless others!
- Younger students can take time to read to a pet or younger sibling.
- Develop a pen pal system. Students can write about books they read, or simple practice fluency with writing.
- Create reading forts! You student can plan, engineer and problem solve their way to an epic fort, and then read inside of it!
- Pick a theme and have every family member find a book at the library on that topic.
- Create your own reading competition between family members with an incentive program.
- Enroll in the Pizza Hut Book It program. Students will earn one personal pan pizza each month for meeting specific reading goals.
- Let’s blend some camping and reading! Host a “glamping” sleepover for friends or family to read together.
Making reading a part of your summer plans is easy! You might be surprised how much your children learn, even when they’re not in school. Reading together provides opportunities for real connections and conversations with your child. It can strengthen your relationship, while creating a strong skill base for literacy and problem solving skills. Summer is about freedom and choice, right? Let them take the reins for their learning and you’ll be impressed with the self motivated student that results.
Ready to learn more about cyber schools? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Attending a Cyber Charter School in PA!
About the Author: Amy Dajczak is a kindergarten teacher at PA Virtual.
Images courtesy of MI PHAM on Unsplash; and PA Virtual.