With stories of illiteracy in the forefront of our national psyche, we’re all in agreement to raise literate children. But seasoned parents know it’s more easily said than done! Yet the best chance of the entire year is ripe and ready for you to relish: it’s called summer.
When school is out, dive into a special mixture of the pool, picnics, and books! Using the child’s interest as a guide, read daily in the summer both fun and easy books.
When summer comes and your child has had a bit of a break, consider the fact that the rested summer mind is far more able to absorb both the magic and the skills of home reading than a tired brain in the evenings during the year.
Language Skills as the Foundation for All Reading
Just as a house needs a foundation, so does a reader. This can be found in language development. Intake involves understanding of what others say. Output, or expressive language, is the skill of telling one’s own thoughts and ideas. So, with your toes in the water or at lunch, take the time to visit with your child.
Both of these abilities add up to language, and constant improvement of language is vital to growth in reading. So,k with your toes in the water, or at lunch, take the time to just visit with your child.
The other key part of the foundation involves visual and coordination skills. It is not a waste of time to color, work activity books, do dot-to-dots, write or draw unless you want to raise a child who may read but can’t write.
Eyes also have to be able to “track” or move smoothly across the page, and many summer games can develop this. Just don’t tell your kids it’s good for them.
Balance Needed in Levels of Reading Material
Yet teachers and parents are at times so involved in the pieces of the puzzle (like phonics, word lists) that is easy to miss out on the needed balance. For a child to become a reader, this is a vital formula: For every instructional page read, there must be at least three pages of fun and easier reading to “help the cement dry” on the learning.
Without this practice, attempts at teaching a child to read are like trying to put unmatched pieces of a puzzle together – lots of work with little yield. When a child is “up to par” in reading, this practice happens naturally as she reads in other subjects like art, music, billboards, etc.
But when a child’s skills are behind in reading (even by a few months), misery, not magic, may happen. So making sure this extra practice happens in an environment of fun is vital to a child’s reading progress.
Different Summer Reading Goals for Adults and Children
It is okay for the goal of a child and parent to be different. Let the student enjoy a goal of fun and accomplishment, oh and did I say fun? Then the adult, while no one is looking, gets to enjoy the goal of growing a reader.
Children will benefit if parents read to them daily. Also, taking turns reading some books aloud helps rest the mind and eyes while keeping the interest active. Don’t lecture, glow, as your child reads. Minimize correction and maximize bragging. There should also be lots of independent level books which are read alone. Get several books from the library and be happy if your child reads two or three from each library trip.
Applied Summertime Reading and Writing Opportunities
Reading and writing can be reinforced in enjoyable ways. Have weekly family singalongs. Make a summer memory book, or a Ship’s Log. If needed, be the recorder and write what the child dictates in print so it can be reread many times, including photos. And remember how much grandparents love getting letters?
Of course, there should be lots of fun and easy books which are read along. Reading aloud to practice, and rereading while recording can be both effective and fun. It can even be enjoyable to reread a book while listening to their own voice that they previously recorded.
Plays, especially with heirloom clothes or makeup, create memorable occasions. You’ll really get the point over when you stop during your travels to read on Pike’s Peak, in the desert, at the beach, or even at the White House!
Cook up a storm. Have one day a week be that student’s day as kitchen manager. It will take more time and effort than usual, but the rewards are great.
The vital signs of a good reader involve organization, a sense of timing, rereading for information or intonation, and these all sneak into the kitchen easily. Just remember to go by the formula of three easy books for each one at their “reading level.”
Summer Habits May Become Lifelong Habits
You say we can avoid the ugly words no longer? The teacher said, “Sit down and read daily.” How about regularly reading to your child till it’s time for Junior High? You can make your child the gift of many warm and cozy experiences in reading this summer.
Your family could go far with Families Are Reading (FAR) Time for a few minutes each day. The next time your child reads a book, shake a hand or give a pat on the back–your child’s and yours. It takes lots of work, regularity, and a magic formula to make it happen.
A crucial factor in school success (or even survival) for students of all ages is the ability to read. Give your child a future Literacy is within your hand’s reach — if a book is! You can make your child a firecracker reader!
Copyright by Hildra Tague. Obtain permission from author for use online or in print. First published in part at Suite101.com.