You can keep your children reading this summer if you emphasize the fun aspect of reading, and make it a part of your family’s regular summer activities along with challenges and rewards.
Most parents are aware that their children will lose some of their reading skills over the summer break and know that average and poor readers will suffer the most from this reading set-back. Millions of children lose some of their reading ability each summer and research demonstrates that poor readers and children from low-income families experience the greatest loss:
- Poor readers are far less motivated to read because they don’t enjoy reading.
- Low-income families have less disposable income to buy books, magazines, and newspapers.
It is important to provide the means and the stimulation for your child to read over the summer months or this loss of skill will accumulate over time, and your child will lose more academic ground with each passing year.
Offer These Reading Challenges and Rewards
Challenge your child using a reward system for the number of books or pages read per week and over the summer. Give each child a target to reach, offer worthwhile rewards, and set up a chart to keep track of progress. A small reward can be offered each week and a bigger one at the end of vacation days. Select whatever will motivate your child that you can afford and feel comfortable about, which can range from extra privileges, prizes, money, or treats of some kind. Do whatever it takes.
- Be sure and check out the size of book and size of print, plus the reading level of each book your child selects so that the length of time needed to read each book (or combination of two books, say) is roughly the same.
- Be flexible. Set aside several opportunities for reading each day—maybe before bed or right after breakfast—and give the child choices so that any reading program is much less demanding than scheduled reading during the school year.
- Average and poor readers should be allowed to select books that are a reading level below what they normally read so that reading is easier for them and more fun.
- Don’t demand that children sound out words when they are reading for fun. If they hesitate at a word, ask them the first letter and the sound it makes, have them take a guess, and then tell them the word.
It is important to make summer reading as rewarding and enjoyable as possible.
Provide These Good Reading Examples
- Select a really good book and read some part of it aloud to your children each day. Before bedtime is a popular time for this activity.
- Read together by taking turns reading alternate lines, paragraphs, or pages.
- Make sure you are a reading role model and your child sees you reading for pleasure and for information. Easy examples are to draw your child’s attention to whatever you read and share it when you can, such as when you read menus, road signs, and entertainment guides. Have your child to read such items aloud to you or help read them whenever possible.
- Discuss what you are reading. Let your child know what you read in newspapers and magazines, rather than emphasize what you heard on the radio or saw on TV.
Make sure children are aware of how useful it is to be able to read, read well, read quickly, and to find information quickly.
Create These Reading Opportunities
- Visit the library and help your child select reading material. A child’s interests change quickly and you should be prepared to support and suggest new and different subjects. Ask for help from your librarian if you run out of ideas. (Librarians live for these moments!)
- Have lots of reading material around—books, magazines, comics—and in various places in the house and car. If your budget doesn’t allow buying lots of reading material, look in second-hand stores.
- Encourage children to read books about summer activities, and whatever they are doing or planning to do, such as camping, visiting relatives, going to the beach, playing sports, going to the dentist, or changing schools. Offer mysteries, adventures, fantasies, and stories of real life struggles, as well. Reading fiction encourages faster reading—a useful skill.
- Get a magazine subscription for your child, or buy individual, age-appropriate magazines.
- Visit a comic book store and have your child select comics that they can read themselves or can read aloud to you or to a younger family member.
You can keep your children reading this summer if you provide the means, the opportunity, and reward them for their efforts. This may be the summer they learn to love reading!
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