It seems impossible but the month of July is rapidly coming to an end, which means summer vacation is half over. Even without a calendar to verify this all I had to do was look at school supply ads for verification.
We all have one more month to ensure that the kids will not suffer from summer learning loss. Although we’ve made these suggestions in past blogs, we feel that they’re worth repeating. Quick tips to prevent summer brain drain, while still maintaining the harmony of having a relaxing summer, may seem challenging but definitely possible. Reading and meaningful dialogue are the keys to creating an effective reading program at home. Here are three critical components for you to consider.
Establish a reading-friendly home environment
• Creating a special place for independent reading, which could be a bedroom, family room, or outdoor space
• Making books available around the house and in the car
• Establishing family reading time where adults and children read together or on their own
• Regular conversations about books, newspapers, magazines, movies or special television shows at family meals
Help your child create their summer reading list.
During the school year, children are often assigned books that they must read – let summer reading be a time for them to read about topics that interest them. When children select their own books they are more highly motivated to read them.
• Offer a limited selection of books that may be recommended by the bookstore, library, or reading website, but allow the choice to be made by your child.
• In some cases, children will choose books that are too challenging for them. In that case, use the Five Finger Rule. Open the book to a random page and have your child begin reading. Every time a word is missed, one finger goes up. If all five fingers are up before the end of the page is reached then it’s time to select another book for independent reading. However, be sure to include that book as a shared read.
Check for comprehension by asking meaningful questions.
True reading is defined as the ability to attach meaning to the printed word – simply saying the words out loud does not ensure comprehension. It is vital to a successful summer reading program that your child truly understands what they are reading.
A great way to ensure your child understands what’s read is to ask meaningful questions which require more than a one word answer. Before reading begins, decide what question(s) will be answered after reading time is completed. This sets a focus and a purpose. Think of a two-part question that challenges your child to explain an answer in depth. Ask “Who was your favorite character and explain why using an example from the story?”
Busy parents and kids need time to take it easy, and balancing all the demands of modern life is not an easy job in today’s world. Spending time with your family by reading books, sharing information, and talking together creates a special time for you and your family. A successful summer reading program will enhance you and your child’s summer, not take away from it. All of these will lead your child to become an independent thinker and learner – the goal for all parents, the ultimate teachers.