Just because it is Summertime, it does not mean that it is time to put the books away and have a three-month break from learning. Education is a year-round activity. Studies have shown that children can lose some of what they learned during the summer months. This is why the first few weeks of school is always review. This is taxing on teachers who want to get to the new stuff. It is also partially why many schools are choosing to have year-round schooling; to help children continue learning and not forget things from previous years.
During the summer, with family vacations, camps, and overall education burnout, it can become easy to neglect reading. Unless you have an established reading plan already in place, chances are the likelihood your child will pick up a book during the summer are slim to none. This is where we as parents need to be involved. But we don’t have to do it alone. There are many summer programs that your child can become engaged in that will encourage them in their reading and help keep their minds sharp through August.
Talk to Your Child’s Teacher
The first person to contact should be your child’s teacher. In fact, most of the time in the final weeks of school, your child may bring home a flyer for different reading recommendations that are available to you. From a guide to prepare your child for the next grade to a list of books or programs, the resources are available to give your child the ability to continue learning.
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Most of the suggestions will be for websites that have information about Summer Reading programs. Many of these will be at a location like a library; your school may even have a program they offer. Online courses are also available. Some do charge a fee, however, if you shop around you can find one that will be in your price range.
Visit the Local Library
There is no better place to learn about reading programs than your local library. They host a variety of different events to boost your child’s interest in reading through the summer. They have days dedicated to certain topics, authors, or genres. Each grade level will have a different day, or time, that they will meet. Once there, they will engage in activities like learning games, story time, and of course lots of reading. If your child is lucky, they could even meet the author of a favorite children’s book.
Libraries have worked hard to make these events more like playtime than school time. Our local library has a weekly event that in addition to promoting reading, they will have a theme for that week. One week will be about Science, another week they will be about music, and yet another about magic and mystery. And that is just three weeks. Check out your library’s website for the options they have for your little one.
Develop Something on Your Own
If either of those are not available to you, you could develop something on your own. This is where a Book Fair can help. You can prepare for the summer months by stocking up on books for your child to read. These won’t be like textbooks; they chose these books themselves. You could also visit a library or bookstore to obtain a stash of books. Either way, the point is to keep your child engaged.
Another good option would be to purchase an eReader. This makes reading available with just the click of a button. If you have a library card then you can digitally check out books, then you would have an endless supply of material from which to choose. This will be beneficial if your child starts a book and doesn’t like it. It is much easier than going back to a physical library or store to make a return.
Those lists that come home at the end of the year could provide you with some ideas as well. Our child’s school sent us a flyer about reading programs, but in addition, that flier told us what to expect for our soon-to-be fourth grader. They tell us that fourth grade is somewhat of a transition year. They will be introduced to textbooks. In a couple of years, she will be in Jr. High and will have to draw on what she will learn next year. So, this summer we can begin to help her get prepared for what she will experience this fall.
I know, just because your kids get a Summer doesn’t mean that you receive the same three–month break. You still have to go towork, come home and cook dinner, and still have the mounds of laundry that need to be done. Come June, parents often take a breath and put school away with the backpacks until they get the Wal-Mart ad in August promoting Back-to-School sales. Only then do we start to look at what the next year holds.
Your child doesn’t have to go through the valleys of forgetting what happened last year. Reading keeps your child’s mind sharp. It helps them to grow. It will put them in a better position going into the next year than a child who spent their summer in front of the TV or with a controller in their hands.
It’s all about developing a hunger to read in them. This begins young, but when that hunger is established, it will be fun to read for your young reader. Katie DiCamillo, author of such books as Because of Winn-Dixie and The Tale of Despereaux is quoted, “Reading should not be presented to children as a chore, a duty. It should be offered as a gift.” Once that gift is acknowledged you will find yourself telling your son or daughter that it’s time to put the book down and get some sleep.
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” -Dr. Seuss