Summer vacation is here…or nearly depending on where you live. Are you cheering or booing? While I’m happy to be free from a school schedule, I’m terrified at the same time. As my sons get older, I’m learning summer for parents means lots of planning, scheduling, and coordinating to keep our kids engaged.
And now that CJ is in school and learning, it also means preventing the summer slide. No. I’m not talking about keeping him off the slide at the pool (though I still don’t think he’s tall enough which is going to be an issue this year). I’m talking about what happens over the summer if children don’t read. There are lots of studies, but it is estimated that the skills and knowledge students lose over the summer take about a month to re-teach in September. While that doesn’t sound like much, imagine the new material that could have been taught in that month. And then multiple that times the 12 years your child will go to school before college. That’s a year of learning lost. Scary!
When I first learned about the summer slide, it was a mystery to me how this happened. My mother was a fourth grade teacher so every summer my siblings and I had to read and complete learning packets before we could go out and play. We also made weekly trips to the library. I thought everyone did. But I’ve since learned that this doesn’t happen. I got a real life example from one of CJ’s friend’s mom.
This mom, a very smart, successful lawyer and I were talking at a birthday party. We exchanged stories about our work and then moved onto the kids and summer plans. She told me that while her son’s summer would be relatively quiet, he would definitely be reading. She told me she learned how important this was the hard way. During the summer between her eldest daughter’s kindergarten and first grade years, she let her relax the whole summer. No reading. No learning. And when she got to first grade, everything she learned in kindergarten was gone. Her teacher asked, “Didn’t she learn the reading basics in kindergarten?” Of course she had, but without practice, those basic skills were gone. She was starting from scratch.
Don’t worry if your plan is/was the same. It is never too late to add some reading and learning to your child’s summer. It’s ok to let your kids chill. Just make sure they spend some time relaxing with books. If your kids are old enough, they probably have assigned reading from school. (Now you know why.) It’s ok to leave that till later in the summer, but you should still incorporate reading at the beginning. Make it fun. Go to your local library or bookstore (in person or online) and have them pick things they’d like to read—books, magazines, comics, whatever. Then set a regular time to read every day. Maybe it is a family reading time. If this is a struggle, you might offer incentives for number of books read or time read throughout the summer.
Tips for Reading Every Day
- Create a special time for reading every day. Once it becomes routine, it is easier for everyone.
- Studies show reading to your children doesn’t have to stop once they learn to read. In fact, many children would like it to continue.
- If your children read on their own, make sure you’re talking about what they read. Ask about what’s happening, what they like about the book, who their favorite character is, etc.
- Make sure YOU are reading. Children model your behavior. So if you’re reading, they’ll want to read, too.
I’ve created a summer reading log to help you and your child keep track of what they read. Check out CJ’s from last summer.
Download the book log now and share what you’ll be doing to prevent the summer slide.