Summer break. The two words every school age child yearns to hear. It’s the time of year kids do everything they can to either transform into fish or ride the wheels off their bike. The truly ambitious child seeks to do both. And why not…who among us adults wouldn’t trade in the 9-5 for a summer of fun, devoid of responsibility?
Yet, we are the parents and while we want our kids to be happy over the summer; we are also mindful of our task to ensure they are becoming the best version of themselves. So while they are planning for lazy summer mornings and raucous summer afternoons, we should be planning to prevent summer learning loss.
Summer learning loss, the phenomenon where young people lose academic skills over the summer, is one of the most significant causes of the achievement gap between lower and higher-income youth and one of the strongest contributors to the high school dropout rate. For many young people, the summer “opportunity gap” contributes to gaps in achievement, employment, and college and career success.
Summer Slide Stats
- Students can lose up to 15% of their academic ability over the summer if they don’t read, write, or practice math.
- Some children lose as much as three months of academic progress over the summer.
- Teachers spend the first four to six weeks of a new school year re-teaching and reviewing last year’s material due to summer learning loss.
- Every summer, low-income youth lose two to three months in reading while their higher-income peers make slight gains. Most youth lose about two months of math skills in the summer.
- By fifth grade, summer learning loss can leave low-income students 2 1/2 to 3 years behind their peers.
Encouraging Kids to Read
- Choice. Choice = Excitement, Excitement = Motivation. Allow your kids to pick the book they want to read. Choice is essential. Let your child choose what he/she reads, even if it’s a magazine.
- Dedicated reading time. Carve out 20-30 minutes a day that’s dedicated reading time. No TV, no radio, no device. In fact, make it family reading time and model the desired behavior you are looking establish.
- Read aloud to your child, even older kids. Drawing further on tip #2, read to your kids at a meal or bedtime. Use funny voices and/or props. Make it a show…the more engaging the activity, the more excited your kids will be to read.
- “Read” audiobooks. They count as reading for a variety of reasons.
- Read comic books and graphic novels. They count, too. Graphic novels and comics are fun, engaging, and offer plenty a wide variety of storylines and characters to attract a young readers interest.
- Read with a headlamp and stay up late. Breaking the rules is fun!
- Get help. Ask a bookstore employee for suggestions.
- Start a parent-child book club. Let your child pick the book. Socialization can be very motivating.
- Get them a library card. Allow them to use it voraciously. Don’t limit the number of books!
- Rewards. Give them bookstore a gift certificate as a reward. Remember, allow them to pick the book(s) that interest them.
Ultimately, getting your kids to read over the summer requires consistent, persistent effort in the face of indignant attitudes, eye rolling, and ever present huffing from an exasperated child. Despite these complications, the benefits far exceed the nuisances. The goal of raising an excited reader and eager learner narrows the achievement gap, positioning your child to be competitive in school and prepared for career success.
Please feel free to share any tips you have to get your child reading over the summer. Just leave your comment(s) below.