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The summer learning loss is a documentable phenomenon. According to the National Summer Learning Association, kids score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer than they did at the start. Some kids can lose as much as “two months in reading achievement”! For a struggling reader, that’s a lot of hard-earned improvement right down the drain.
Why do kids lose some of their reading skills over the summer? It’s simple. They don’t get to practice what they’ve already learned and the learning starts to fade. As a parent, you can help stop the loss. Here are a few simple things to do during the lazy days of summer:
- Make the library a regular summer activity – Just because school is over doesn’t mean you should stop taking your child to the library. If your child has had to go to the library for research during the school year or to check out books for book reports, you can point out that summer is the time for true reading freedom. Now he can chose any kind of book he wants. He can read space adventures, detective novels or even joke books. What he picks during the summer isn’t as important as the fact that he’s still reading.
- Check out a reading list – The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) publishes a great set of reading lists for kids in kindergarten through eighth grade. The printable booklets list great books for the different age levels, along with a brief description of each book and its ISBN number which makes it easy to find at your local library. Once you have a copy of the list, you can make a game of crossing off each book that your child reads during the summer. You could even challenge him to read all the books on the list before school starts next year. Each list has about 20 books on it, so that’s a completely do-able challenge! You can find the reading-list booklets on the ALSC website.
- Match up summer activities with books – All sorts of fun things happen in the summer. Swimming lessons. Campouts. Trips. Try to match up some of the activities you have planned for the summer with books on the same topics. If your child is going camping, find him a book about outdoor crafts, or even a mystery that takes place on a campout. If he’s getting a new pet, find books about pet care. Stumped for ideas? The Reading Rockets website, Start with a Book, has 24 child-friendly themes to help you explore what your child likes and discover ways to link that interest with reading.
- Don’t forget about writing! – Summertime can be the ideal time for writing projects. Remember, writing and reading go hand-in-hand. Summer writing projects can include sending postcards to friends and family, starting a family “what we did this summer” newsletter, and keeping a travel journal.
Whatever the method, keep your child reading this summer. Those two vital months of reading-level mastery are worth fighting for!
National Summer Learning Association, “Know the Facts,” http://www.summerlearning.org/?page=know_the_facts
The Association for Library Service to Children, “Summer Reading List,” http://www.ala.org/alsc/compubs/booklists/summerreadinglist
Reading Rockets, “Start with a Book,” http://www.startwithabook.org/summer-reading-learning