Teachers more than anyone know just how real the “summer slide” phenomenon is. Take a student out of his or her learning rhythm and they will begin to lose ground. At least one month, according to recent studies.
Thinking about this brought me to this very real analogy: if we had that many days away from our job as kids do for Summer Vacation (104 according to Phineas and Ferb!), we’d probably forget a couple of things, too.
As a mom, this was the summer I have been dreading for years: required reading for my now 10-year-old. She had to read Lincoln: A Photobiography by Russell Freedman. It is just one book, and it will be the baseline for her first Social Studies unit of Fifth grade. I understand it and think it is more than reasonable … but the push back. Oh, the push back!
So how do we help our kids – who at this age have a lot to say about what they like and don’t like – without destroying the idea that reading can be fun? and getting that “must do” in there too?
1. Let them pick. Let them decide what material they want to read, and when. Maybe they like to get stuff done in the morning, maybe at lunch … pick a time that works. By letting your reader read something they like (magazines and manuals count!) , keeps those skills polished.
2. Set the limits. You should set a minimum time, both per reading session and how many days a week. Most school districts have guidelines. For example, ours is 90 minutes per week. That still allows plenty of time for summer fun.
3. Divide and conquer. Just because the process sounds easy and fair to us, doesn’t mean that it will be interpreted that way. Our suggestion is take that agreed upon time and split it in half. Your reader can start with their favorite and then do the required reading or vice versa.
Agreeing on a plan and breaking down the task into manageable pieces not only helps get the job done in time, it makes everyone happier, too. And isn’t that the best part of summer?
So whether you’re enjoying a Staycation or heading to the beach, mountains or lake in these next few weeks, we hope that you’ll pack some books!
Terry Doherty is a Stay-at-Home Mom, reading mentor, and a family literacy advocate. She is the founder and Executive Director of The Reading Tub(r), and is the force behind Share a Story – Shape a Future, an annual blog tour for literacy. You’ll find reviews by families for families on The Reading Tub website; and her ideas for reading on Family Bookshelf, her blog.