If you’re a parent with a school-age child, you’re no doubt well aware of the summer “learning gap” issue. Three months off of school may rock your kid’s world, but in most cases it also leads to a loss of knowledge.
Every fall, teachers struggle to re-teach the skills kids mastered the year before, and at the top of that list is reading skills.
Make September an easy transition for your child with these summer strategies to keep them engaged.
Do As I Do
It isn’t a cliché for nothing. Children are masters at intuiting the difference between what Mom and Dad say versus what Mom and Dad do. If you want your kids to master reading, as well as its partner skill writing, you have to set the tone.
A 2014 study conducted by The Harris Poll concluded that 51 percent of Americans read five books or less each year, with 16 percent reading none at all. As a parent, your life is busy, busy, busy. That is exactly why setting aside time to read a book is a powerful indicator to your children that reading is important.
Visit Your Local Library (A Lot)
Make this at least a weekly event. Once you’re there, take time to linger. Encourage your kids to browse and explore. That’s what libraries are for.
Be sure to introduce your child to all that is available at the library, not just the book stacks. One of the primary reasons kids don’t read widely and deeply, as well as why they don’t spend time in the library, is because they don’t know what’s there. Again, set the example by checking out magazines, newspapers, movies, CDs and of course books.
There’s a whole world of reading out there. One of the best ways to access it is through subscriptions. Talk with your son or daughter to figure out what magazines they would like to read and purchase a subscription for them. This introduces them to the exquisite pleasure that is waiting for something worthwhile to show up in your mailbox.
Another consideration is mail-order book clubs. There are a lot of options out there, from broad categories like Mystery Guild Book Club, to specific writers such as the Stephen King or Agatha Christie book clubs.
Let Them Choose
From teachers to libraries to magazines, it seems everyone in the world has an idea about what your kid should be reading. While Must Read lists are great, let your kid choose her own reading material. Nobody, not you and certainly not your child, wants her reading controlled by somebody else. Let him pick, and ask why he chose that particular book. You may just learn something.
Believe it or not, a lot of kids love word games. Linguistics are wired into the human brain, and children especially love toying with language. You can encourage this with the old standbys (crosswords, word searches, word scrambles) and through modern apps like Words With Friends, Crostix, and Moxie 2.
Check out this webpage for apps specifically targeted to improve reading comprehension.
Two Are Better Than One
Pitch the idea of doing a book club for two, just you and your kid. This is an excellent way to share the act of reading, as well as the act of comprehending with your child. You can trade off the selections, they pick one then you pick one.
While this naturally leads to discussion, don’t try to steer your kid to “educational analysis.” This will only serve to enforce the belief that reading is work and not play, and that the only real place for reading is in the classroom. Instead, talk about what you both like and dislike about the book you choose.
For extra fun, pick books that have been made into movies. You can watch the movies together and discuss how the book and movie differ.
Power(ed) Readers: American who read more electronically read more, period. (2014, April 14). Retrieved from Harris.
Thorpe, V. (2010, April 24). Parents 'must let children choose what they read.' Retrieved from The Guardian.
Tyson, K. (2013, February 28). 15 of the Best Apps for Improving Reading Comprehension. Retrieved from Learning Unlimited LLC.