After a long school year, the library may be the last place your child wants to spend time in this summer. Parents should keep in mind that allowing your child a vacation from reading can likely lead to a “summer slide” they really can’t afford. Pediatrician Paul Yellin, director of the Yellin Center for Mind, Brain, and Education in New York City, says some kids are really put at a disadvantage over the summer if they don’t keep up with their reading and learning:
…[T]hose students who are strong readers tend to read more, building both their reading skills and their general knowledge, while students who struggle with reading avoid this difficult task and miss the chance to strengthen their reading skills, build new vocabulary, and add to their general knowledge. In other words, a summer slide is most damaging to those who are already at a disadvantage. Without continued language and skill-building over the summer, struggling students returning to school in the fall face the demoralizing prospect of finding themselves even further behind their peers.
Children from less-affluent families, kids with learning differences like dyslexia, and students whose families don’t encourage lifelong reading and learning are at a big disadvantage in today’s knowledge and information age unless they get the encouragement, support, and resources they need. Fortunately, there is no shortage of ideas to help kids find the right materials for summertime reading. New Vision suggests:
Provide Interesting Material – This might seem like a no-brainer, but if kids don’t have anything available to read that they find interesting, they are not going to read. Stock your house with great books, and not just “kid” books. Most kids love looking through animal or dinosaur encyclopedias that may be at a higher reading level, but full of appealing photos. Books about paper airplanes, natural disasters, medieval kings and queens, and amazing plants are all examples of “grownup” topics that kids will love. Putting books out where kids can easily access them is also important.
Subscribe To Magazines – Kids love receiving mail, and a magazine just for them is a great choice for encouraging reading this summer. They will look forward to new material delivered to your doorstep, and the reading will come naturally.
Read Out Loud – Reading to kids at a higher level than they can independently read can actually make the listener a better reader! Reading out loud is also a great family bonding time, and choosing books that appeal to kids and parents alike (Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter for example) can make for great family time.
Take a Field Trip to the Library – Going to the library can be a great time for kids to explore a wide variety of books and magazines, and find something that they really like. If you let kids pick out their own books, they are more likely to be motivated to read and enjoy them.
Be a Great Example – If you have time in the day that you slow down just to read, your kids will follow your example. Another great benefit of having both parents and kids reading is that as your kids get older you can share books and discuss plots! Set a great example for your children, and make sure that reading is a part of your life as well.
Have Your Children Read to You – Kids love to show off their reading skills, so make sure you give them level-appropriate material that they can really shine with! Sometimes even giving them easy material can build their confidence and help them get used to reading with more speed, fluency, and accuracy. Make time this summer to have a listening ear, and let your child read to you!
If your ears aren’t available to listen, how about a dog’s? Researchers say in a new study that reading to a dog might improve a child’s motivation to read:
Second-grade students who read aloud to dogs in an afterschool program demonstrated improved attitudes about reading, according to researchers at Tufts Institute for Human-Animal Interaction at Tufts University. Their research appears online in advance of print in the Early Childhood Education Journal.
Reading skills are often associated with improved academic performance and positive attitudes about school in children.