It’s time to talk about the infamous Summer Slide. Ouch! This isn’t the old, rusty metal playground equipment that burns the legs and rips the skin. This is the notorious slide that leaves your kids in the dust, not reaching their full potential and falling behind academically for the next school year and beyond.
Studies show that children, as early as first grade, can potentially lose more than three months of reading skills over the summer. This frightening figure tends to be the greatest for families without easy access to books and academic resources, and the loss is cumulative. By sixth grade, students who have experienced consistent summer learning loss are an average of two years behind their peers. However, with a little planning and insight, this can be remedied, and your kiddos can conquer the summer slide without injury. Yay!
So, what do parents do to engage your kids academically while they revel and frolic during summer break? You’ve gotta get sneaky:
Take a Resource Inventory
Snoop around your school website. Many districts offer free resources including digital books, reading programs, and summer reading contests. Don’t be afraid to talk with your teachers and librarians to uncover more treasures. As an added bonus, sharing these resources will help your child get familiar with the curriculum and programs they’ll use in school next year.
Run straight to your public library. Go directly to the children’s section and become best friends with the first librarian you see. You’ll find fun activities and programs, digital books (my favorites are myON, by Renaissance and Overdrive), and of course, mountains of free reading materials. (Don’t overlook magazines and comic books.) While you’re there, ask about summer reading contests. There’s nothing like the prospect of fame and fortune to inspire a child to read!
Take advantage of digital books. Many apps allow you to download free books for offline reading. Keep your tablet loaded with books for unexpected reading time—in the car, on a plane, on the beach, at the park, at grandma’s house. You’ll be happily surprised to see your children reading when they think you’re not looking. They can be sneaky too!
Take an Interest Inventory
One of the best ways to foster a love for reading is to connect a child’s interests and experiences to books. What do they love to do? What do they secretly want to do? What would they like to learn this summer? Grab a boatload of books on their interests to scatter around your house like little Easter eggs.
What if your kiddo only wants to play video games with plant-eating zombies? No problem! Grab books on programing, coding, and of course, monsters and zombies! Look into apps that provide audio support(myON, Tumblebooks, Epic). If a book is too advanced for your reader, audio support allows children to hear upper-level content vocabulary. Do your kids know how to pronounce “chupacabra” and “Sasquatch”? They soon will!
Side note here: It is vital that your kids see you reading. Show them that reading is a rewarding luxury. Browse through their books, ask questions, and get interested in their hobbies and interests. Have them stump you with their vast knowledge and make them feel empowered. Who knows, you may learn a thing or two. I have personally learned from my own child that I won’t survive a zombie apocalypse.
Connect Reading to Fun Experiences
This is the fun part, where families can get super-cunning. Here are a few tricky ways to get your child reading:
- Cook up dinner with your kiddo. Have them read off the ingredients and help prepare the meal. You can double the recipe to sneak in some math!
- Form a friend and/or family book club. Libraries often carry multiple copies of the same book so that you can read and discuss it at the same time. Let your child pick the book and be the team leader.
- Watch a kid’s foreign film with English subtitles. Or, let them watch “just one more” of their favorite episodes with the volume off and subtitles on. This one cracks me up. They always say yes.
- Create a family reading contest. If we log 10 books this summer, we can have a fun day at the zoo (movies, park, museum). Incentives work!
You know your kiddos better than anyone, so get creative! It doesn’t matter what format they’re reading: hardback, digital, magazines, websites, or shampoo bottles. Find ways to sneak reading into each day in a way that’s fun for you and your kiddos!
Thanks to you and your cunning skills, your kiddo won’t be burned and scarred from the summer slide. They’ll glide into the next school year with ease. Ahhhhhh...summertime.
As a Cadre Member with myON, Kim Hall has the opportunity to promote a love of reading and learning within schools, families, and communities. She enjoys working with educators to create connections between myON books and exciting real-world experiences that are relevant and engaging for students.