Activities to Support Summer Learning
- Make Time for Reading. Set aside time each day for your child to read! 15-30 minutes is all it takes!
- Keep a book log. A book log can be as simple as a collection of pages where students are asked to draw something from the book they read and write a sentence about their drawing.
- Let children select their own books. There is powerful research evidence to support self selection of reading material. Providing students with he opportunity to choose the books they read begins the preparation of literate adults, who know how to find books they want to read.
- Take a trip to the library. Even though you may have many books at home, the library offers a wide range of reading materials at various levels. Librarians are a great resource to support children in their book selection.
- Children need to read books at their level. Choosing books that are either too difficult or too easy will not support literacy growth. Children need to choose books they can read fluently and understand. Be sure to talk to your child about what they are choosing to read and why! (Aliington & McGill- Franzen, 2013)
- Buy books on tape. Listen to them in the car as your family travels or turn off the tv and listen as a family.
- Subscribe to children’s magazines. In your child’s name subscribe to magazines such as Sports Illustrated for Kids, Highlights for Kids, or National Geographic World.
- Encourage a pen pal. Ease disappointment about summer separation from a friend by encouraging children to be pen pals. Provide stamps and envelops or offer email as another option!
- Make trips a way to encourage reading by reading aloud traffic signs, billboards notices. Show your children how to read a map, and once you are on the road, let them take turns being the navigator.
What Does The Research Say?
Summer reading loss is that backsliding in reading development that can occur during the summer vacation periods when children are not enrolled in school.
Most of the large reading achievement gap found at grade 6 could be attributed to summer reading loss.
By simply increasing children’s summer access to books that matched their reading development levels has produced reading growth and the elimination of summer reading loss. (Allington & McGill- Franzen, 2013)
Limited access to books is only part of the reason for summer reading loss. Generally speaking, the more children read, the better their fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. But how to motivate children whose reading skills are not strong who have not had successful reading experiences? These children simply aren't as interested in voluntary reading as are those children with a history of successful reading experiences. These children often struggle with choosing books that are at a successful reading level and so the problem is compounded. Children often choose books that are too difficult causing even more frustration. So children don’t just need access to books, they need access to good fit books, that suit their interests and their reading level.
What Can Parents and Schools Do?
Combating the summer slide or summer learning loss is not as difficult as it appears on the surface. Schools Research shows that children who read as few as six books over the summer maintain the level of reading skills they achieved during the preceding school year. Reading more books leads to even greater success. When children are provided with 10 to 20 self-selected children's books at the end of the regular school year, as many as 50% not only maintain their skills but actually make reading gains.
Research also indicates making summer reading effective is about more than just increased access to books at an appropriate reading level, especially in younger children who are still learning to read. Reading is most effective when parents or family members can provide reading support, guidance and make sure kids understand what they are reading by asking questions, asking children to summarize stories and by making reading interactive.
Finally, remember that children do need free time in the summer to relax and enjoy the pleasures of childhood. So do everything you can to make summer reading a fun and exciting activity.