Jillian Sciacca, M.S. Ed (Early Childhood Reading and Literacy) | The Children’s Book Review | May 29, 2017
Summer vacation is nearly here, and while a break from school is nice, it is critical that your children continue to explore books and read throughout the summer. There is extensive research showing that many children experience a decline in their reading ability over the summer months. According to Whittingham and Rickman (2015) “summer drift, otherwise known as loss of reading comprehension skills or reading achievement, has been a well-known and well-documented phenomenon of public education for decades” (p. 18). This decline happens with many school-aged children for many reasons, but some children simply do not spend enough time reading and exploring books.
The good news is that there are many things you can do over the summer that will increase your child’s excitement and motivation for reading and perhaps even improve their reading ability. I have created a list of five things you can do over the summer months, to ensure that your child does not experience the summer slip.
Reading is vital during the summer, but it is imperative not to forget that writing is the other half of literacy. Encouraging your child to write over the summer can be gratifying and lead to increased literacy development. Don’t you think Grandma would enjoy receiving a good old fashion letter in the mail? Encourage your child to write letters to family members. Along with being excellent writing practice, a letter is an excellent way to brighten Grandma’s day. Another great way to get your child writing is to encourage them to write a book. If you go on vacation, have your child write a story, summarizing the trip. They can illustrate the pictures, or use real photos from the adventure. The result will be an artifact that you will treasure forever!
Vocabulary happens to be a determining factor in a child’s literacy success. Plenty of research notes that the larger a child’s vocabulary when they enter kindergarten, the more likely they will excel as a reader and writer not only in school but life. Summer presents excellent opportunities to enhance your child’s vocabulary. Pick one word a week and place it somewhere in your home. Encourage your kids to use the word throughout the week. Your children’s teachers will be impressed when they come back to school describing their summer break as remarkable and their snack as exquisite!
Shared Cooking Time
Reading recipes and following directions is a phenomenal way to engage children in a literacy-based activity. If your kids already have some reading skills, put them in charge. They will love reading the recipe and telling you what to do! Maybe your child will even develop a passion for cooking. Do you think this sounds intriguing?
Literacy on the Go
When you find yourself in the car, challenge your children to a letter hunt. For younger children, you can encourage them to be on the look out for different letters, or even the letter that makes the /Gg/ sound. If your children have some decoding skills, you can encourage them to find the letters that make up different words. If you are lucky, this game will increase your children’s phonemic awareness skills all while also preventing the dreaded statement, “Are we there yet?”
Participate in a Summer Reading Program
There are so many opportunities for children to participate in a variety of summer reading programs. Many of the programs offer rewards to keep kids motivated throughout the season. A great resource to check out is https://www.thebalance.com/get-free-kids-stuff-from-summer-reading-programs-for-kids-1356875 Additionally, it is important to ensure that your children are reading books that are appropriate for their reading ability. When children attempt to read books that are above their current reading level, they will become frustrated and lose interest. As a parent, it is crucial that you engage your children in a discussion about the books they are reading. This will increase comprehension, which is a critical part of literacy development. Improving understanding through questioning is vital at every stage. When I read to my two-year-old, I am always asking her questions to keep her engaged and allow her opportunities to practice her language skills.
As an educator, parent, and advocate for literacy, I hope that every child will have opportunities to increase their literacy skills over the summer months. You do not have to be a teacher to make a difference. Providing your child with opportunities to read, write, speak, and explore letters throughout the summer will make a huge impact in their literacy success when they return to school in the fall. I hope you are inspired to create a literacy rich environment for your child throughout the summer months that will lead to growth and an increased passion for literature. Summer is quickly approaching and adventure is waiting, both outside your front door and inside a book. Happy summer. Happy reading.
Whittingham, J., & Rickman, W. (2015, May/June). Booktalking: Avoiding Summer
Drift. Knowledge Quest, 43(5), 18-21.
The article Avoiding the Summer Slip: Opportunities for Literacy Growth Throughout the Summer was written by Jillian Sciacca, M.S. Ed (Early Childhood Reading and Literacy). For similar books and articles, follow along with our content tagged with Literacy Activities, Literacy Resources, and Summer Reading.