By Kimberly Suckow
Summer is almost here, and for many, this will be a time for relaxation and vacations. But did you know that students can lose two months or more of achievement gains made during the school year if they stop reading over the summer? This loss is especially true for struggling readers and children from low-income families. The phenomenon is called summer learning loss, or summer slide. Not only can your child fall behind an average of two months in reading, but the learning loss is cumulative, summer after summer. It has also been shown to have a tremendous impact on students’ success, including high school completion, post-secondary education and workforce preparedness (Smink, Jeff. “This is Your Brain on Summer.” New York Times 27 July 2011: A29. Google News Web. 6 May 2018).
Summer can still be relaxing, but taking an active approach to prevent summer learning loss will set your child up for success in the upcoming school year! Following are the top three activities to prevent the summer slide at Scholastic.com:
Six books to summer success: Research shows that reading just six books during the summer may keep a struggling reader from regressing. When choosing the six, be sure that they are just right — not too hard and not too easy. If your child misses more than 5 words on a page, the book is too hard.
Read something every day: Encourage your child to take advantage of every opportunity to read. Find them throughout the day:
- Morning: The newspaper — even if it is just the comics or today’s weather.
- Daytime: Schedules, TV guides, magazines, online resources, etc. For example, if your child likes the food channel, help him/her look for a recipe on the network’s website — then cook it together for more reading practice.
- Evening: End the day by having your child read to you from the book he/she is currently reading. Have him practice a paragraph, page, or chapter before reading to you. Rereading will help him/her be more fluent, which means, able to read at the right speed, correctly, and with nice expression.
Keep reading aloud: Reading aloud benefits all children and teens, especially those who struggle. One benefit is that you can read books your child can’t, so he/she will build listening comprehension skills with grade-level and above books. This will increase his knowledge and expand his experience with text so that he will do better when reading on his own.
We have also put together Resources to help parents prevent summer reading loss for their children. We’ve included links to summer reading lists, reward programs, and literacy activities; fun and engaging educational things to do around Houston with your children, including summer camps; and parent education resources.
Don’t let your kids fall behind over the break! There are so many ways to incorporate reading while still having a fun-filled summer.