"Summer Slide" is a phrase commonly used to describe how students slide backward on their reading and math skills while out of school during summer break, similar to the phrase, "if you don't use it, you lose it". Studies have shown that children who do not read or have access to books during the summer lose up to 2-months of reading performance. Those losses accumulate during the elementary school years so by the time a child enters middle school they may be 2 1/2 years behind!
Here are a few ways you can combat the summer slide in reading for your child!
#1. Find a topic that interests your child!
This is the perfect time for your child to read something they enjoy, which will make reading less of a chore and more like fun! Assist your child in finding reading material that's related to their interest, sports, animals, mystery, places, or books based on certain characters.
#2. Incorporate reading into everyday activities!
Take advantage of daily opportunities to have your child read to you! While you cook, ask them to read the recipe or advertisements on the packaging, while you travel they can read the directions; reading is all around us...no matter how small or short the text-challenge your child to read.
#3. Listen to audio-books!
Some students are auditory learners, an excellent alternative to reading that can assist in comprehension skills is listening to audio-books! When you are traveling or when it's bath time, an audio-book is a great stand in for reading.
#4. Get a library card!
Our public library offers a huge variety of books that your child can browse, read there, or take home with them. Take your child down to the library and sign them up for a library card! Challenge them to see how many books they can read each week and see what number they could work up to by the end of the summer!
#5. Read aloud!
Set a time within your day to sit down with your child and take turns reading aloud to each other; studies have shown that the first part of the day is when children learn best, after breakfast would be a great time to read with your child...reading is just not for bedtime! You can read parts of the newspaper aloud then give your child the opportunity to read part of their book aloud to you.
#6. Read books before you watch the movie!
Hollywood has taken a lot of great books and turned them into movies! Find one that you think would interest your child and read the book together first, then pop some popcorn and have a movie night! A conversation about the differences and similarities would be fantastic...even what they liked or didn't like about Hollywood made the characters come to life!
#7. Start a new book series!
Once a love for a series is fostered you'll never have to worry about what to read next! Once a child falls in love with a group of characters, a story line, or an author-you'll always know what books to look for! R. L. Stines with his "Fear Street" series, "The Babysitter's Club", "The Chronicles of Narnia", "Percy Jackson and the Olympians", "Harry Potter", "The Boxcar Children", "Diary of a Wimpy Kid", "Captain Underpants", "Berenstain Bears", "Elephant and Piggie", "Arthur Adventure", "Madeline", "Junie B. Jones"...the list goes on and on!
#8. Read graphic novels or comics!
If your child is a visual learner, try to introduce them to reading graphic novels or comic books! Graphic novels and comics provide a good reading opportunity for children that are fun but also builds reading skills without even realizing it.
#9. Find the right fit!
When you're helping your child a book that interests them, make sure it's the "right fit". Right fit books are books that are of high interest and are not beyond their reading level. You can use the five finger test to determine if the book is too difficult for your child. Open the book to a page with many words. Have your child begin reading the text. Hold up a finger for each word they do not know. If you have 4 or 5 fingers up, the text may be too difficult for your child to read independently. You can still check our the book...it just may be a book that you want to read along with your child.
#10. Be a good example!
Set a good example, when your child sees you reading and enjoying the newspaper or a book, you are sending a message that reading is important and valuable.
Be sure your child reads at least 20-minutes a day. Research shows that a child who reads only 1-minutes a day outside of school will learn 8,000 words by the end of sixth grade where a student who reads 20-minutes outside of school will learn 1,800,000 words! That's HUGE! If reading isn't one of your child's top priorities, please do your best to help them foster a love for reading and prevent the Summer Slide!