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Summer Days

Summer Days… Reading Ways!

May 7, 2019     By Jennifer Bell, Manager of Literacy Program, Boys Town National Training Services

Child Development, education, School

As spring approaches and the warmer temperatures, budding trees, and outdoor social activities of summer beckon, the allure of winter's isolated and reclusive hobbies fade.  This is especially true for students who spend more than 1,200 hours between August and May focused on learning. For them, the end of the school year marks the beginning of an 8 to 10 week "brain break" from all things academia. While some may still choose reading as summer pastime, others will quickly forego it it in lieu of other, high-spirted amusement. 

Let's not fool ourselves, setting aside time for recreation is important. Medical experts recommend that kids and adults get a minimum of 60 minutes of aerobic, muscle-strengthening, and bone-strengthening activity each day. For students, however, increased physical movement that leads to lengthy departures from intellectual activity can take its toll. For elementary and middle school students specifically, long recesses from learning can lead to lapses in reading skills. Research shows that routine reading and exposure to print leads to easier phonological processing, increased reading fluency, growth in reading vocabulary, and subsequently better comprehension. While high expectations and calculated efforts by teachers at the beginning of the school year can help remediate the effects of summer deterioration, many things can be done prior to and during the summer months to reduce achievement gaps. 

The following are some strategies that both children and parents can use:

ChildrenParents

Make a habit of reading before you get out of bed for the day. Leave a book by your bedside so that it is accessible. It is important to remember that even six minutes each morning will make a difference!

Take your children to visit a new or used bookstore at least once a month over summer vacation; or if appropriate, help them make a plan for getting there independently.

Create an outdoor space for yourself where you can go to read. Make it special with comfortable seating, a cold, refreshing drink, and shelter from the sun.

Play language-based games with your children such as Scrabble®, Apples to Apples® or Blurt®. If you do not own any games, ask a friend/neighbor to borrow them or purchase some inexpensive games from eBay, Craigslist, or a thrift store.

Challenge yourself to read a certain number of minutes for each hour spent on video games or in outdoor activities. Keep a log of your activity each day to hold yourself accountable.

Start a family book club. Choose a book that every member of your family can read. Allow each person to read at his or her own pace but plan some times to discuss what you have read as a group. This can be done while on a walk or during a family picnic.

Swap a book or books with a friend or classmate at the end of the school year and make a plan for reading them over the summer. Be sure to keep them safe and return them when the school year begins in the fall.

Allow your children to purchase a couple of audio books or check out a few books on tape/CD from your local library. Encourage your children to listen to their books daily and read along in between video games and athletic activities.

Read to a younger brother or sister, or engage a group of neighborhood friends in a reading challenge. When the challenge is complete, reward yourselves with a fun activity.

Set aside time to either read with your children or listen to them read 2-3 times each week. As you read, keep a log of the characters you encounter or the facts that you discover. Reading to your children has its benefits even if they are proficient.

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