Now that summer is here, there is nothing my kids look forward to more than the educational opportunities that I plan for them.
If only that were true.
They want nothing to do with anything remotely resembling school work during the summer. I can completely understand this sentiment; I am a teacher and I want nothing to do with school during the summer either. However, the “summer slide” is a real thing and it is important to keep our kids using their brains at least a little bit during the summer.
Some kids already love to read. When I was growing up, I always had a book by my side. However, not all kids view reading as a pleasurable activity. If your kids need a little more encouragement to read (like a couple of mine do) this summer, here are some ways to make reading fun!
One of our first trips every summer is to the library. Our local library always has a theme and special events during the summer. My kids also love to participate in the reading contest every summer. I love how the library customizes the contest for each age group, so all ages are able to win prizes for reading. Another big plus for library time is the air conditioning. Sometimes it is just too hot to play outside.
More air conditioned fun can be found at the bookstore. Visiting a Barnes and Noble and letting everyone get a treat at the coffee shop is a great way to help your not-so-excited readers get excited about a trip to the bookstore. On the flip side, search out your locally-owned book shop. There is so much history and character in a locally-owned book store. Look for unique shops. There is a book store near us that I haven’t visited yet, but it looks like such a neat place. It is specifically designed to appeal to fans of children’s literature. It has a reading teepee, a Narnia wardrobe, and book-themed merchandise. This particular book store also offers parties and book clubs; the perfect addition to anyone’s summer.
Our family is fairly competitive, so in addition to reading for library prizes, this summer we are having our own reading competition at home. We are all compiling a stack of books to read this summer, and we will compete to see who reaches their goal and completes the stack. My seven-year-old is especially excited about this, she really wants to read more than me!
Being a Language Arts teacher has allowed me to see first-hand how reading is linked to academic success in all subjects. A love of reading can translate into a love of learning, which is an important key to every student’s success. However, not all kids like to read. Some kids struggle with reading and even the idea of it just fills them with dread. Continuing to read over the summer is even more important for children who are struggling.
So how can we encourage our struggling readers? One thing I have found extremely helpful is audio books. Listening to the book while they read a physical copy is a great way to help struggling readers. Listening to someone else read helps them with word recognition and allows them to follow the story easier which leads to deeper comprehension. Having a read aloud time with parents and/or older siblings also encourages readers of all ages. Even upper elementary and middle school students still enjoy having a book read to them. Another great way to encourage reading is partner reading. You and your child or siblings can pair up and take turn reading pages in a book. This relieves the pressure of reading a whole book and gives your struggling reader a chance for a break while still enjoying the story.
Reading is a wonderful way to spend the long, hot days of summer. Reading a good book grows imagination and opens a pathway for children to be creative. Build on this by encouraging your kids to write their own story, make crafts related to the books they have read, put on a play about the story, or even write and perform their own play. Hopefully, by the time school starts again our kids will agree that reading is fun, and they will have had a whole lot of fun while learning during summer break.
About the Author:
Dana Herndon is blogger and a writer, as well as a middle school teacher in Georgia. She and her husband love to spend time as a family with their three children. They enjoy coaching and participating in sports, as well as going to the lake and beach. In addition to spending time with her family, Dana’s favorite things are reading, watching Food Network and HGTV, and paddle boarding. You can follow her blog at danaherndon.com.