Preventing the Summer Slide: 6 Tips to Encourage Summer Reading

summer reading

With summer vacation quickly approaching, parents everywhere are looking into summer camps, pool passes, and fun family getaways.  Summer is typically a time for endless hours outside and sunsets that linger.

But did you know that children face a real danger of losing some of the educational gains made during the school year if they do not continue with reading during the summer?  It’s true.  Commonly referred to as the “summer slide”, some kids lose valuable academic skills when they do not exercise their reading muscles for a couple of months.  While a nice break is definitely in order after a long school year, it’s also important to sneak in some reading throughout the summer months.

Six books seem to be the magic number for older, independent readers, but pre-readers and emerging readers need to continue with at least twenty minutes of reading each day.

Reading can be a lot of fun, particularly during the summer months.  Shake things up a bit and keep up those academic skills while having fun with your kids this summer.

Below are six tips to prevent the summer slide.

Tip #1:  Take it outside!

Kids have been cooped up in a classroom for 180 days, so it only makes sense that they want to enjoy the great outdoors as much as possible during the summer break.

Consider creating an outdoor reading nook.  A pop-up tent in a shady area of the yard filled with throw pillows, books, and puzzles is a great way to take reading outdoors.

Younger children often enjoy reading about bugs, flowers, and nature and then looking for those things in their own backyards.

Tip #2:  Make it social.

Kids learn a lot from their friends.  With so many different ideas and interests up for discussion, they can really help each other remain engaged.

  • Games:  Playing games like Scrabble, Life, and Careers requires reading and word formation.  Storytelling games, such as The Storymatic Kids, are also fun and engaging for groups.
  • Host a read-in:  Is there a rainy day in your future?  Get out the indoor tents, blankets, and hot chocolate and host your own read-in!  Kids can read together, compare books, and even create a play based on something they’ve read.
  • Start a group blog:  I know the world of blogging can seem like a scary place, but it’s actually very easy and free.  You can set up a summer reading blog for a group of friends to post updates, reviews, and book recommendations.  Great for kids who love computer time.
  • Create a word hunt:  Kids love treasure hunts for the thrill of the chase.  Consider revising the treasure hunt and making it into a word hunt.  Whether it’s around the house or around town, send your kids on a fun adventure in search of words with a cute prize at the end.  Cupcakes with words, anyone?

Tip#3:  Audiobooks

Audiobooks are a great tool for increasing reading skills and kids love them.  It allows them to get lost in the story while using their imaginations.  Bring some along on the plane, for a long car ride, or even just for a day at the pool.

Tip #4:  Cook together

Cooking requires reading, math, and sometimes even a little creative problem-solving.  Plan a few cooking projects each week and encourage your little chef to help you read the recipes.  You might even have your child design dinner menus to practice writing skills.

Tip #5:  Field trips

Field trips that support books or magazines your that child is already reading increase motivation.  It’s also fun to compare the actual field trip to what happened in the book.

Even if you can’t align filed trips with books on your child’s list, you can write in a field trip journal or create a field trip scrapbook after the event!

Tip #6:  Head to your local library

Many public libraries host summer reading challenges.  Check out your library to see if there are story hours, craft hours, or other programs to support summer reading.

How do you prevent the summer slide?

Image via Flickr/Sheila Sund