By Tania L. Grimes
Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment
Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation
AKRON — Summer break is just around the corner. Students and families are looking forward to swimming, travel, camp fires, and many outdoor activities.
While it is a great opportunity for families to spend more time together, it is also important that some of that time is spent reading throughout the summer. When children do not read during summer break, many skills which were learned during the school year are lost over summer. This is referred to as “summer slide.”
According to research by Children’s Literacy Initiative, children can fall two years behind in reading by fifth grade if they don’t read over the summer. However, parents can help prevent summer slide.
Before summer break begins, parents should sit down with children and set some goals for summer reading. Goals could include a number of books to read, an amount of time to read each day, or a list of different genres to read each week. The goals should be realistic and achievable. A reward system could be initiated to provide incentive for your child to read each day. Sharing an ice cream cone on a hot summer day is a great reward for summer reading!
For children to maintain their interest, it is important to choose books which are not too easy nor too difficult for your child to read. Now is a great time to talk to the child’s teacher to learn more about the child’s reading level. Teachers are a great resource to get ideas of books for children’s summer reading. Once parents have lists of books, it can be a fun adventure to visit the local public library with the child so that the child can choose books to read.
While at the library, inquire about their summer reading programs. Most public libraries have inexpensive or free summer activities which help children connect to various books and authors.
Parents need to show children that reading is a priority, and the more they read, the better readers they will become. Modeling this is the best way to get children excited about summer reading. One way to do this is to declare a daily reading time when parents and children all take time to relax and enjoy a book. Another way to increase a child’s love of reading is for the parent and child to read together. Taking turns reading paragraphs makes reading fun while enhancing the special parent-child bond.
Summer break should be a time for your child to have fun. Reading can be fun. Packing books into your bag to enjoy at the beach, going on a “reading picnic” at a nearby park, or writing your own books together that your child can read to grandma or grandpa are all ways to instill a love of reading in a child. While you’re having fun reading this summer, parents will be supporting their children and helping to prevent the summer slide.