As a mom of two grade school kids, I get excited when school lets out and summer break begins. I get a break too… a break from hounding my kids to do homework, special projects, and studying for tests. I get more free time back. But, I also feel mild anxiety that my daughters will backslide over the summer and unlearn all the things that were poured into their little brains over the school year. I also worry their interest in reading will slip with the call of the outdoors, play dates, and summer camps. I don’t want them to start the new school year two steps back from where they ended the previous grade.
I make a concerted effort to combat the summer reading slump. Here are some tips that have worked for me.
7 Tips to Keep Your Kids Reading During the Summer:
1. Don’t stop reading – Okay, I do allow a bit of a small reprieve, but I keep it short and don’t let their interest in reading wane.
2. Take your child to the local library every week—Your local library is probably chock-full of activities for kids during the summer, including independent reading ‘camps’ where kids commit to reading over the summer and record the books they finish. Your child will get a sense of accomplishment when he sees his “completed” book list grow.
3. Set a reading goal (daily or weekly)—I try for a minimum 15 minutes a day per child (note: the operative word is “try!”).
4. Read aloud to your child or have him read to you—Reading aloud, no matter what age, helps with reading, listening, and comprehension skills. This activity is also great for bonding with your mini-me.
5. Get creative—Read a play aloud and assign acting roles to members of your family. Try different voices or get into character by wearing costumes. Or write a unique story with your child (this idea was the genesis of my book Gia and Lincoln’s Aggravating Allergies).
6. Align book subjects with summer activities—Going to the beach? How about a non-fiction book on the ocean and its sea creatures? Is your child going to a specialized camp like dance camp, soccer camp, circus camp, space camp? Find books with these subjects (fiction or non-fiction) and help him develop his passion.
7. Ask your child about the book he just finished—Get an oral book report from your child. This helps with reading comprehension and communication skills. Be sure to really listen, engage, and ask questions.
The other night my 7-year-old fought me on reading the chapter book, How To Be Cool In The Third Grade (by Betsy Duffey), that her 2nd grade teacher gave her as a gift on the last day of school. I asked her to read it for 20 minutes and she became so absorbed in the story that she lost track of time, was late for dinner, and finished the book that same evening. (Score one for mom! She completed a book 3 days into summer break!) Not only did she finish, but she was excited to learn the tips on “how to be cool” and now she feels totally prepared for third grade (well, prepared to be cool, that is).
My 10-year-old daughter just finished her first book of the summer (the good old stand-by, Encyclopedia Brown, by Donald J. Sobol). I even let her stay up late to finish the book, because let’s face it, that never happens in my house with my 10-year-old reluctant reader!
My anxiety over my kids’ summer reading slump is on pause for now. Hopefully for a long three month pause. And who knows, maybe they will be two steps ahead next school year for a change.