Summertime brings the joy of BBQs, beaches, and breaks. But long summer breaks can leave children experiencing the “summer slide. ” This is when they may lose a portion of their academic gains.
Reading during breaks, especially a long summer break, helps your children avoid losing the knowledge they built up throughout the school year. Here is how you can encourage summer reading in kids.
These reading tips work well for homeschooling families too.
How to Encourage Summer Reading
During your laid-back summer days, take a few moments to relax and refocus as a family over a good book. Whether gathered on the porch swing, or in the car on the way to the beach, reading is always a fun and rewarding educational activity. Plus, there is nothing like immersing your children in a good book, right?
But what about children who still struggle to read? Those for whom it hasn’t quite “clicked” … who haven’t exactly fallen in love with books? What can you do this summer to encourage them? Here are six simple ideas:
Keep Reading to Your Kids
This may sound obvious, but summer is a perfect time to keep plugging away with reading. Even if you take a well-deserved break from other studies, most children benefit from continuing to read every day.
This could mean sharing a book together at bedtime, having your children read to you, or setting aside 20 minutes a day for everyone to grab a book and read silently.
Especially, for children struggling to read, this steady little bit of work each day can pave the way for a reading breakthrough. It also keeps your kids from losing whatever reading confidence they’ve built up over the school year.
Have Children Read to a Family Pet
One of the fun tips I’ve seen pop up more and more, is the idea of inviting children to read to the family pet. Several different studies show that reading out loud to pets can help kids gain confidence and fluency in reading.
It seems that kids love the fact that pets won’t judge them, won’t correct them, and listen with endless patience. Plus, reading to a pet tends to calm children who would otherwise be nervous about reading out loud.
So, if you have a cooperative pet at home (or at Grandma’s house, a neighbor’s place, or the library), consider encouraging your children to read one-on-one to their furry audience. Who knows? Both the animal and the child might love it. For even more fun, your kiddo can keep a reading log and have the family pet pretend sign it.
Read Below Their Reading Level
You want great stories to draw your children in, so they’re compelled to keep going. But when kids are frustrated because they struggle with each page of a book, they will probably miss the joy of the story. They may decide that reading is an unwelcome, unrewarding chore.
If children are allowed to read exciting books a bit below their ability, they will slowly gain confidence. We trust that they will eventually catch the reading bug. When that happens, they’ll probably shoot ahead and start choosing harder books.
I’ve heard of second-graders who would always pick picture books for their pleasure reading until they suddenly found the joy of reading and took off into chapter books. Better to lay a foundation for the love of reading before pushing too far ahead. You can go to the public library to get your hands on a lot of these books. Have your child make a reading list for themselves.
Audiobooks for the Win!
Summer road trips are the perfect opportunity to catch some great books on CD. Head to your library and check out some audiobooks before you take off. Everyone in the family will enjoy this entertainment and it gives you great conversation starters throughout the trip.
After you listen to the audio book, you can have your child do read alouds with you. Struggling readers really seem to love audio books. It’s one of those reading strategies that works.
Summer Reading Program
Whether or not your kids are already hooked on reading, they might enjoy a local reading program. With fun events and prizes, these programs can have great influence in getting kids to read. If your local library or bookstore doesn’t host a program, consider creating your own.
A simple sticker chart with some basic prizes (such as an ice cream cone or a special date with mom or dad) could be all that you need for some serious reading fun this summer. Getting your child in a book club is a good idea. It’s better than watching them play their favorite video game, during the summer months.
Model Reading for Your Children
Don’t forget to pick out some great books for yourself, too. When your children see you enjoy reading on your own, it helps them realize that reading is a worthwhile activity. So, don’t feel guilty for heading out to the porch with a good book this summer. It may actually help your children!
If you’re wondering what to read during your break, start your kids on a book from a series. A series can keep them busy for a while. It also helps them read with discernment, as they learn to skim the information that is repeated in each book. Make sure you encourage your kids to read over the summer.