Get your Kids Reading this Summer

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reading

Last week, I was informed by my 7 year old that you’re NOT SUPPOSED to do math in the summer. I asked her why, and she explained that it’s because there is no school, OBVIOUSLY. My kids (like many) are adamant that school equals learning, but summer equals fun; therefore, summer does not equal learning.

This isn’t an encouraging equation. Perhaps summer doesn’t equal learning in the sense that we’re in school for 10 months, and off for two. But that’s only if we equate learning with being in a classroom setting. There is no reason to stop learning just because school is in recess (a really long, more than 15 minute recess).

Math may not be the best subject for summer fun for many kids, but summer is an opportune time to get your children reading.

Math may not be the best subject for summer fun for many kids, but summer is an opportune time to get your children reading. (If your child loves math drills, then consider yourself lucky and knock yourself out. Clearly that won’t be happening in my home.) You can ensure your children develop their skills and continue to learn by providing opportunities for them to read all summer.

Kids will discover that reading is also recreational, not just structured learning that happens only at school.  Encouraging children to read at home in the summer is critical to them developing into strong readers and being successful at school. Here are some suggestions to help you read at home with your kids:

Read every day. Set aside time to read daily, whether at bedtime, or in the middle of the afternoon in the backyard (or at the park, beach, dock, or campsite). Educators generally recommend about 15 minutes per day for primary children (JK to grade 3) and 30 minutes daily for junior students (grades 4 to 6), much of which may be done independently.

Let your child choose the books. Don’t worry if you think that he or she reads too much of one genre. At school, teachers expose students to variety. At home, success in reading will be determined by their desire to explore what fascinates them and not by what is imposed – especially by you! You are not just teaching your child how to read, but you are encouraging your child to want to read.

Comic books, graphic novels, and books with “underpants” in the title are totally acceptable. Again, let your child choose. Were you reading Steinbeck at age 9? Right. That will come. In the meantime, let them enjoy. Don’t assume that graphic novels are lighter fare, because many are not. These stories also focus on gender equality, race relations, friendships, self-esteem, the environment, and many other contemporary issues. Historical graphic novels can also be valuable learning tools.

Some are lighter fare; so what? Let your child have fun with summer reading. They’ll read more demanding material at school.

Read aloud to your child. Aside from the enjoyment of hearing stories, you are exposing them to language, and by exploring the content of those books you are helping them develop critical skills in comprehension. Older children may prefer to read independently, or read aloud to you. Perhaps you can share the book or get two copies and read together. Parental support allows kids the opportunity to be challenged with a more difficult text than they would otherwise be able to read on their own.

Visit your local public library. The library usually offers summer reading programs for children and teens. Even if there isn’t a specific program at your branch, the staff will be well prepared to help both you and your kid get set up with great reading material.

Summer reading should be fun. The same goes for you. Set a good example by reading a novel, too. My favourites lately were “All the Light You Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr, and “Station Eleven” by Emily St John Mandel. This summer I’m planning to read “A Fine Balance” by Rohinton Mistry, because years ago I loved “Such a Long Journey”. Have a wonderful, literary summer!

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About Author

Stacey Cline is an elementary school teacher and educational consultant. She is amazed by what she learns from her students every day. Stacey is passionate about reading, and has amassed a fantastic collection of children’s literature that her family enjoys daily. She lives in Toronto with her husband, two daughters and two cats. As a result, she loves strong espresso and good wine. Stacey can be reached at sclineconsulting@gmail.com.

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