Summer is a time when kids can lose some of their reading abilities if kids don’t read. But it can also be a time of improved reading if kids read nearly every day. How can you help?
Read to your child daily. For prereaders, read picture books, asking questions to gain information from the illustrations. For beginning readers, sit side-by-side with your child and let the child read to you. Or if he balks, you read one page and he reads the next. Older children love to be read to, so don’t stop just because they can read.
Ask questions while you read. “Why did he do that?” “What do you think will happen next?” “Where did the story happen?” Questions force the child to think harder about the text and to remember. Ask questions after every page or two and at the end of the book. This kind of questioning can help children strengthen their memory skills.
Pick a reading time and stick to it. Usually right before “lights out” is a time when reading together can be habitual, especially if the child believes reading allows him to stay up later. If the child doesn’t need to wake up early the next day, leave a pile of books in the bed for the child to finger through for an extra 15 or 30 minutes.
Take your child to the library. Investigate books unlike the ones you have at home. Use those books to expand your child’s knowledge about the world. If one is about George Washington’s life, look for books on surveying or colonial life or false teeth. Supplemental reading enriches and extends the ideas of one book. You and your child can do this online too.
After you read a book together, close it and ask the child to retell the story. Or let the child look at the pictures and retell the story.
Select a “word of the day” taken from the child’s reading. Write it on a few cards and put them on the refrigerator, on the kitchen counter, and on the car dashboard. Use that word several times a day in sentences which the child can understand. You can make learning the word a game. For every time the child can tell you what the word means, she gets a sticker.
Draw pictures of words to help the child learn them. You can put together weekly vocabulary books of the pictures drawn that week, and read them at night to help the child remember the words. The more the child uses the words, the more likely the child will remember them.
For parents working more than one job or away from home for long hours, finding time for summer reading can be hard. But if you think of it as a necessity for your child’s future—like brushing teeth or eating fresh fruit—you can build reading into your routine. If money allows, you can hire a middle schooler or high schooler to come into the home and read while you prepare dinner or after the kids have had their baths.
If you have ever felt behind your classmates, you know how debilitating that feels. Make a promise to hone your child’s reading summer skills so next fall he or she starts school on level or even advanced. Your child’s triumphant smile will thank you.