The lazy days of summer and all things fun are here, punctuated with “I’m bored.” We are trying to get started on the right foot: lots of outside activities with required reading. We enrolled in the school endorsed Scholastic reading challenge, where the boys have yet to log in their reading minutes. Now it is time to buckle down and actually read, individually and together.
We've all heard of the Summer Slide, where children lose some ground in their reading and math skills over summer. This slide is more significant for Special Needs children, who can regress if not enrolled in summer school to maintain hard-earned improvements.
I am considering tying in reading hours to rewarded screen time. Motivation or manipulation? It doesn’t matter at this point. I can imagine waking up in the morning to my boys sitting, reading to each other, and clocking in two full hours of reading to justify their allotted two hours, pediatrician-recommended max screen time. The reality is I may have to consider locking up the devices, like the doctor suggested.
Other more motivational strategies are below:
- Earn tickets to a recreational park, like Progress Chart for Six Flags Read to Succeed Program
- A customized reward chart.
- Programs like ChuckE.Cheese rewards reading with their chart that enables them to earn free game tokens.
- Combine reading with screen time with Big Universe.
But what if your child struggles to actually sit and read?
Make reading fun. Kelli Kilmartin, a former English teacher who is the Minnesota district manager of Sylvan Learning, a tutoring service suggests doing board games: "Every school expert out there will tell you games like Scrabble, Boggle and Apples to Apples, anything that involves words, is going to help their vocabulary, which will increase their reading fluency." She also suggests looking for writing opportunities, like writing about a show a child has watched or writing out the week’s menu.
A literacy expert, Maurna Rome, gives these tips on keeping kids on track with their reading skills this summer:
- Be your child's reading buddy.
- Read aloud to your child (at least through the sixth grade).
- Find a series (to get them hooked).
- Move beyond fiction. Informational, non-fiction books are good bets for struggling readers, Rome says. "They like reading about real things and you can get them at all levels."
- Make reading purposeful (before going to the zoo, pick up some relevant books).
- Sneak in the writing (get some pen pals or send family an email).
- Creative writing assignments (check out some writing prompts from Writingfix.com or from Big Universe).
- Use junk mail. "Have the kids read the junk mail and find 10 words they like," Rome says. "They can cut those words out and glue them on a piece of paper."
- Keep books everywhere.
- Books on the go.
- Start a book club (talk about a book).
So maybe my idea about padlocking the electronic devices was a bit draconian; being motivated to motivate my children to read may be more fruitful. You can catch a lot more flies with honey than vinegar.
Image courtesy of Evgeni Dinev at FreeDigitalPhotos.net