Tips to keep reading skills from slipping over vacation

Children can lose reading progress over the summer months; parents can stop it from happening.

There’s good news and bad news regarding summer vacation. The bad news is; children can lose up to three months of reading progress over the summer months. The good news is; parents and caregivers can stop it from happening. A student who reads 21 minutes per day outside of school reads almost two million words per year, whereas a student who reads less than a minute per day outside of school reads only 8,000 to 21,000 words per year. What a huge difference 20 minutes can make in a child’s reading skills, and in their life.Tips to keep reading skills from slipping over vacation

The first activity parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, caregivers, babysitters can do is read to children. What do children learn when they listen to others read to them? They learn new words, how to use their imaginations, the connection between words and pictures, listening and communication skills, focus and concentration, the relationship between words and sounds, how to predict, how reading happens from left to right and the best part of all; the enjoyment of spending time with someone they love.

Read what children find enjoyable; comic books, magazines, newspapers, brochures, cereal boxes – Words are everywhere. Discuss what you read together and ask questions about the story. Why ask questions? Michigan State University Extension says that asking questions supports learning how to think. Some questions you might ask before, during or after reading might be:

  • What was it all about?
  • What do you think will happen next?
  • Would you like to learn more about ______________?
  • What was your favorite part of the story?
  • What did you learn?
  • What was the problem in the story?
  • What was the solution?

Other activities to develop reading skills at home include baking or cooking together, telling stories about yourself as a child, or a story about them when they were born. Talk to your children about their day, play games such as Scrabble, Monopoly, Apples to Apples etc., look at family photos and make up stories. Practice reading while shopping by reading food labels, grocery lists, food posters and the specials flyer.

A great activity to encourage reading skills is a story bag. This no cost activity can be as long or short as you have time for. You need some kind of bag and objects found around the house. All the objects are placed in the bag. For instance it could be a stuffed dog, a marble, roll of tape, a book or an envelope. Start your story as you reach into the bag for an object. Once upon a time there was a black and white dog walking down the sidewalk. He had no collar and needed a bath. Ask, “What would make you think a dog needed a bath?” Along came a small boy carrying a book, ask, “I wonder where the boy was going with the book? I wonder if the dog was bigger than the boy like Clifford?” The boy and dog came face-to-face and the boy reached down and patted the dog on-top of the head. The dog licked the boy’s hand. Ask, “Why do dogs lick people?” and on, and on. This activity can even be done while traveling. The possibilities for stories are endless and don’t need to make a lot of sense; what’s important is the process.

Keep summer reading fun when school is out! Don’t forget to check out summer reading programs at your local library. Helpful online resources for families include:

Reading Rockets

PBS Kids

Scholastic Books

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