What’s on your child’s summer bucket list? Swimming? Camping? Sleeping in?
What about reading? “The thought of doing anything educational doesn’t have to dampen summer plans,” said Kimberly Brown, APNP, ThedaCare Physicians-New London. “Instead, think of reading as a way to boost the brain and keep it ready for the upcoming school year.”
Educators agree that children of all ages need to keep reading during the summer months. Students can experience significant learning loss, or what is called brain drain, when they do not participate in educational activities. “They could end up scoring lower on standardized tests and lose months of educational skills,” said Brown. Here are some ways to encourage reading for your child:
Go back to school: Not necessarily to summer school. However, talk to your child’s teacher if summer school is needed. “Some schools might have summer reading programs available, which encourage students to read for a certain amount of minutes,” said Brown.”They can also earn some incentives.
Visit the public library: The public library is also a source for fun, energetic summer reading programs as well as educational activities for kids and families. Students can also earn incentives for achieving reading minutes.
Daily reading: Set aside time each day for independent reading. A half-hour is ideal. “If it is too hard with big chunks of time, break it down into 10 to 15 minutes, which make a big difference,” said Brown.
Let kids choose: Picture books, chapter books, graphic novels, magazines, the newspaper and nonfiction books all count so let your child decide what they want to read.
Start a reading club: “Get the neighborhood kids or close friends together to read the same book and have engaging discussions about the books,” said Brown. Book discussions are a great way to connect. They also help students maintain reading skills, improve reading fluency, and learn new vocabulary and concepts. A librarian can help students select a good fit book.
Family read-in: Students can learn the joys of reading when they see parents reading too. And no matter the age, reading aloud benefits all children. Pick a night each week to gather up a favorite book or books and read away! “Get into the summer mood and start a campfire outside complete with s’mores and a good book,” said Brown. “Most importantly, when parents and children enjoy summer reading together, children develop a love of books and reading that lasts a lifetime.”
Hit the road: When going on a family road trip, let kids pack a bag of their favorite books. Share stories on the road. Read books aloud. Get audio books to listen to new stories.