By Tracey Hecht, Author of The Nocturnals
School may be out in most districts around the country, but that doesn’t mean that learning should stop. Studies have proven that unless kids continue to practice skills throughout the summer, they’re at risk for losing important ground and falling behind. The good news? Preventing “summer slide” isn’t rocket science; as with physical exercise, keeping up school skills calls for a “use-it-or-lose-it” approach. What can parents and caregivers do to help kids remain engaged and curious learners throughout the warm-weather months? Start with reading. Finishing just six books during the summer may be enough to keep a struggling reader from slipping backwards, according to a recent study. Follow our easy, simple tips to help kids stay on track and, hopefully, to develop a love of reading that could last a lifetime.
1) Offer choice. Kids are more likely to stay engaged if they have chosen the reading material that most meets their interests. Remember that the goal is to keep kids reading; comics, popular literature, magazines, and more will all help your child meet that goal.
2) Read together. Share wonderful stories aloud with both younger and older children. Pause to ask questions about the story or illustrations. Ask kids to predict what might happen next. Encourage kids to create a special voice for a character and join in. For great read-aloud choices, look for books such as the titles in the Nocturnals series, which feature strong, distinct characters and humorous dialogue.
3) Model reading. Whenever possible, show kids what a love of reading looks like. Kids who see their family members reading are more likely to become readers themselves.
4) Create a reading spot. A comfortable, quiet place where children can focus on a book without distraction can make reading more appealing.
5) Clear the calendar. Kids are more likely to get lost in a story if they have an uninterrupted block of time. Make sure that the family schedule leaves space for reading.
6) Follow the curiosity trail. Encourage kids’ new interests as they read. Has something new piqued their curiosity? The titles in the Nocturnals, series, for example, include a pangolin, a sugar glider, and other animals that children may be encountering for the first time. Guide kids to other books and resources, where they can learn more about information that interests them.
7) Learn about your public library’s summer reading or summer learning program. Make use of some of the best, free public resources available at your library with kid and family programing, reading lists, hands-on activities, and more.