The school year is almost over, and summer is right around the corner. Kids all over the country are beginning a collective cheer. No more alarm clocks, hectic schedules, and homework. But while kids everywhere look forward to the lazy days of summer, ten weeks without school puts them in danger of BRAIN DRAIN, otherwise known as the SUMMER SLIDE.
What is SUMMER SLIDE? According to a report from the National Summer Learning Association, “A conservative estimate of lost instructional time is approximately two months or roughly 22 percent of the school year.” Wow, that’s frightening news.
As a reading teacher, I can tell you that it is (sadly) absolutely true. Many of my students that leave in June reading at a particular level return in September reading at a lower level.
So what can a parent do to prevent summer slide? Here are my top 5 suggestions:
Encourage your child to read 4 – 6 books over the summer
Many research studies have been done on the topic of summer learning loss. Results indicate that reading 4 – 6 books over the summer can prevent a decline in reading achievement scores from the spring to the fall. Of course, this relates to typical readers, and struggling readers may need additional help during the summer.
Another interesting finding was that children indicated that if they had easy access to books, they read more. This is a glowing recommendation for regular trips to the local library or bookstore.
Book choice is crucial, so let your children pick the books that interest them. I know, you may wince at some of their choices, but motivation and emotion play an important role in whether your child will interact with the text. If they like it, they’ll read it. Scholastic.com and goodreads.com have book recommendations by age and interest.Read aloud to your child.
“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” — Emilie Buchwald
This is one of my favorite reading quotes, and it rings true. Reading aloud is suggested for all ages. (Click here for my April blog, “5 Reasons We Should Read Aloud to our Preteens”.)
Summer, with its more relaxed schedule, offers lots of opportunities for parents to read aloud to their children. In reading aloud, you can expose your child to higher-level books that they can’t yet read on their own. You can also expand their interests to new genres. I would sometimes read the first book of a series to my son or daughter, and once they were hooked, they would choose to read the rest of the series on their own.
And don’t forget picture books. You’re never too old to enjoy picture books. One of my favorite picture book authors is Chris van Allsburg from my home state of Rhode Island. He is perhaps best known as the author of Jumanji and Polar Express, which were made into movies, but he has written dozens of amazing books. His illustrations are simply beautiful, and his stories provoke thought and discussion.
Click here for more suggestions for read-alouds from goodreads.
Play games that involve reading
As the heading suggests, reading doesn’t just have to be of books or magazines. There are many games that involve reading. Have a game night, and sneak in some reading at the same time! Here is a selection of fun games for kids that do just that:
Memory/ Concentration (Age 3+)
Zingo! (Age 4+)
Pass the Bomb, Jr. (Age 5+)
Uno (Age 7+)
Boggle (Age 8+)
Bananagrams (Age 8+)
Scattergories, Jr. (Age 8+)
Apples to Apples (Age 12+)
Scattergories (Age 12+)
Scrabble (Age 8+)
Research family outings and vacations
Planning to take a family vacation this summer? Let your kids get involved in the planning, by researching places to go and things to do. They can read reviews on tripadvisor.com or log into a destination website for descriptions of activities.
Trips to historical landmarks and museums offer their own opportunities for reading and learning, as do map reading and nature guidebooks on a hike. You may even want to arrange trip pictures in a journal and ask your children to write captions and descriptions.
Hire a Tutor to Close Gaps and Make Gains
Sometimes just keeping a child reading over the summer is not enough to prevent summer slide. If your child is a struggling reader, it is especially important to continue reading intervention. The more often a student gets the right type of tutoring, the faster he/ she improves. Summer is an ideal time to even increase tutoring sessions, because your child is not fatigued from the school day and there is no homework.
Twice weekly one-to-one tutoring sessions with the right tutor can improve reading skills more than summer school or camps. A private tutor will diagnose your child’s specific needs and develop lessons to specifically target those areas. If your child is diagnosed with dyslexia (15 – 20% of the population), he/ she should be tutored ONLY by a certified dyslexia practitioner using a multi-sensory approach such as Orton-Gillingham.Judy Packhem of www.shapingreaders.com is a reading specialist/ consultant and dyslexia therapist who holds certifications from both the International Dyslexia Association and the Academy of Orton-Gillingham. She tutors struggling readers of all ages all over Rhode Island. She also provides online tutoring for students who do not have access to local certified dyslexia practitioners.