With summer just around the corner and the end of the school year in sight, parents start asking that burning question…
How can I continue my child’s learning over the summer? As an elementary school teacher, I can tell you the answer is simple. Read.
Yes, believe it or not. The number one thing you can do for your child this summer is read. Read with them, have them read to you, have them read independently or with a sibling. Whatever it takes, just get them reading.
Fostering a love of reading at an early age is essential to your child’s success. In fact, having good reading skills is one of the strongest predictors of academic success. Good readers think critically, employ inferencing skills, evaluate situations and alternatives, understand abstract ideas, and build schema. We want our children to be thinkers and problem solvers, to brainstorm solutions and be creative. We strengthen and encourage those skills through reading.
Research points out that the major difference between good readers and poor readers is the amount of time they spend reading. So as parents what do we do with that information?
Set aside time each day to read.
Snuggling up together to read before bedtime is wonderful, but it is also important to set aside some “quiet time” in the morning or afternoon to read. The message is simple, reading is something we do to learn, something we do for fun, and it is an important task that we make time.
Another way to help foster a love of reading in your child this summer?
Model it yourself.
If you set aside some time to read, allow your child to see you reading too. Children learn through observation, therefore seeing a parent modeling good reading habits sticks with your child far more than them being told to read. Will your child be willing to read during the day if you’re on the phone, in the backyard, or doing anything else? Probably not. Sit down and read too. Show your child that you also make reading a priority.
As a parent, how can you maximize your child’s reading time this summer?
Ask the right questions.
I’ve heard it a million times. Parents ask their children, “So what did you read?” The response is typically a summary of the book or some version of “I don’t remember.”
The truth is, we’re just not asking the right questions. You want questions that are going to engage children’s’ curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking skills. So instead of asking, “What did you read,” try this instead:
How is the character feeling? How do you know?
What do you think will happen next?
What problem is the character facing?
Why did the character react that way? How could they handle that situation differently?
Is there a problem in the story? What is it? How can it be solved? How would you solve it?
If you were the main character, what would you do?
If you could change the ending of the book, what would you change?
How do you think the book will end?
If you’re stuck for reading material, our local San Diego libraries have book clubs and reading activities to encourage summer reading and help you find the right book for your child. In addition, your child’s school most likely has summer reading lists that are tailored specifically to each age group. Children’s high interest is key! Greek Mythology? Action? Historical Fiction? Comic books? Sports articles? It doesn’t matter what they’re reading, just get them reading!
So parents, this summer be sure to enjoy the sun, sand, and a great book with your child.