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Yes, Summer is here with you and your children enjoying long Summer evenings! Your older children are free of homework; your smaller ones have been staying up later, and playing outside more. It seems like Fall, with schoolbooks and camps ending, is far away. But is it? Some of you are starting to think about your child’s academic and developmental skills, not just basking in the lovely thought of schoolbooks in the drawer or on the shelf, and leaving them there for a few months.
We are getting calls from Directors concerning parents’ questions like, “What can I do during the Summer to help my child continue to develop strong literacy skills?” Teachers know, and experts agree, that what is often referred to as the “Summer slide” is real! When children do not read or write over the Summer, valuable skills are lost. That is one of the reasons why our Summer camps focus on reading and literacy skills as part of our daily routine! Reading is a skill for life, and, as with any skill, practice is key. Studies have shown that children who read more become better readers. Children who read over the Summer months often gain, rather than lose, important skills. When children become better readers, reading becomes a more enjoyable experience, and they want to read more. Whether your child is just beginning to learn the letters of the alphabet or reading novels, reading every single day, even in the Summer, will keep reading enjoyable and skills sharp. Particularly for students who struggle, keeping hard-earned literacy skills strong over the Summer is essential.
It is not hard to do. Many libraries and bookstores offer Summer reading clubs that keep older children engaged with parties and prizes to encourage reading. With so many great books out there, Summer is the time for you to help your child find books and magazines that are interesting and fun. Your local public library or bookstore can help you and your child find just the right book on just the right topic. Whether it is a book about building bridges or a favorite athlete, a magazine about cool cars or a funny comic book, reading for at least 30 minutes a day will keep your older child on the road to becoming a lifelong reader.
If your child is too young to read a book on her own, read 20 minutes a day to her. Find a ritual, or create a routine this Summer when the two of you can cuddle up on the couch, crawl under a blanket with a flashlight, or lie together on your bellies on the floor. You read to her, and let her “read” to you too. This experience is not about doing it “right.” Even if she is just making up the story by looking at the pictures, this is a wonderful and valuable literacy experience. Not only are you having fun and building your relationship, you are allowing your child to feel competent, powerful and independent.
Writing should be part of the Summer, too. Encourage your child to keep a Summer journal and write letters to grandparents and friends. If your child is too young to write, have him dictate to you while you write down exactly what he says, then reread it back to him for accuracy. This prewriting skill will enhance his understanding of print and the power behind his words.
There is no right or wrong way to keep reading and writing skills alive over the Summer. Visiting your local library and bookstores, and sharing literacy activities like writing thank-you notes, miss-you cards, and picnic and Summer barbecue invitations are great ways to bring literacy activities into your home and daily routine. As the famous slogan goes: Just Do It!
The Education Team