Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Keep those kids reading this summer -- Summer engagement series, Part II

Keep those kids reading this summer -- Summer engagement series, Part II
As we discussed yesterday, the last few months of the 2019-2020 school year were really rough for students, parents, and teachers alike. For many, it was also a dramatic and traumatic sudden shift that has left kids feeling nervous, fearful, and so on about school and the state of the world. 

At the end of a NORMAL school year, I would be offering you suggestions on the best workbooks, reading programs, math websites, and so on to keep the kids engaged over the course of summer. This year, however, I want to focus a lot less on active learning and lessons and more on passive learning with fun and relaxation.

Unless your child struggles with significant delays that need to be dealt with over the summer, I do think it's ok to skip workbooks and structured programs for pretty much every academic subject this time around.

But, the title of this post is all about keeping your kids reading this summer, right?


But throw away the book logs unless YOUR KIDS want to take part in reading programs offered at the library or bookshop or other places. Throw away formal reading instruction unless your child truly needs it to deal with known reading issues that need to be addressed. 

Instead, let's focus on making reading fun and relaxing. Further down in this post, I'll link you to several of our past posts related to reading, but first, I want to share some ideas to make it more fun and enjoyable for you and the kids:

Let your kids build a fort in the backyard, on the patio, or even inside. Give them flashlights or a battery powered lantern or a small lamp to take into the fort along with a big stack of books. Consider sitting down and selecting the books together or just plop a bunch of books in a basket or bin and stick them in the fort. Turn on some soft music in the background, add some pillows and blankets to the fort, and read together. 

Have a reading focused picnic. Lay out a blanket or beach towels in the backyard, put out some trays of snacks and drinks, and add a bunch of books. Have the whole family lay or sit down to read outside with a picnic. 

If you have pets, grab some books and have everyone take some time to read to the family dog or cat or bunny or lizard or turtle. Encourage using different or even silly voices for the characters in the book -- does the family dog prefer one voice over another? 

Take a few minutes to clean out the toys and other kid junk from your car and pop in some books instead. Change out the books regularly and ask your kids to read to you or to each other while you drive (don't force them though...if they don't feel like reading in the car, that's cool!). You don't even need to mention the books to the kids -- if the books stay in there, the kids will likely eventually start reading them on their own. Just make sure you change out the books periodically to keep the selection interesting.

Put books in the bathroom, especially if you are potty training. We kept a basket of books by the toilet and my son spent a lot of time reading in there during potty training and beyond! Even today, at 21, he still reads a lot on the toilet! As a toddler, he looked at picture books. In elementary school, he had some chapter books that we'd rotate through the bathroom, and as he got older, he progressed to novels and history books. Just as with the car, you don't even necessarily need to say anything. Eventually, your child will likely notice the books and just pick them up and read them without any prompting from you. Again, change out the books regularly.

If you go to Costco or Sam's Club, put your kids in the cart seat and swing by the books section first. Tell your kids that they only get to look at the book while you are in the store and then you'll be returning it to the books section before you check out (and, then surprise them by buying the book if you wish!). It took us a few times before my son was OK with leaving the book behind, but it also started being one of his favorite parts of our Costco trips! He read and stayed entertained while I got the shopping done. 

Take turns choosing a book to read aloud during dinner or over dessert -- my son and I used to read poetry aloud while eating dinner and/or dessert. This was a great tradition when we lived with my mom for a few years. We each took turns reading aloud and talking about the poems. It kept us together at the table longer and gave us something to bond over. 

And, this is not the time to do tons of correction -- if your child misses a word here and there, it's OK. It's actually very normal (it's when they are skipping numerous words on a regular basis that you should begin to worry). It's also normal to occasionally mispronounce a word, and again, unless it's really egregious or happening all the time, you don't need to intervene much (or at all). 

Carve out a space for a reading nook. Include books, pillows and blankets that stay in that corner just for reading, maybe a refillable water bottle to sip from while reading, and a soft lamp for ample light. I have a special spot in my living room that is just for reading and my son and I both have grown to love it. Consider making a special spot for your own reading, but include some kids books and special pillows and blankets for your kids in the same spot so they'll be inclined to join you. 

Let summer reading this year be simply about enjoying the act of reading, especially if you read together. Simply having books available and around the house is one of the most important things you can do to get your child reading. Don't just keep them on shelves. Put a stack on an ottoman or end table or even the floor near where your kids play. Put a few books in each bathroom. Put some books on the dining table. Exposure to books and seeing them out will go a long way towards getting your kids to pick them up and read them without being prompted. 

And, make sure your kids see YOU reading. This has long been known to be predictive of whether or not kids read. If they see their parents or important adults in their lives reading, they are far more likely to read as well. 

As promised, here are several of our past reading-focused posts for even more tips and encouragement:

All of our reading posts are HERE.

But, I particularly like these posts:

And, finally, while I'd love to say you should definitely promote and encourage reading this summer, I also think that this summer in particular should be a lot more focused on recovering from the traumatic and chaotic last few months of the 2019-2020 school year. This summer should include plenty of down time for you and your children with a lot less concern about learning.


Check out the rest of our Summer Engagement Series:
  • Preview: Summer engagement -- how to keep your kids learning all summer (Read it HERE)
  • Part I: Is summer "brain drain" real and where do we go from here? (Read it HERE)
  • Part III: Bolstering math skills over summer (read it HERE)
  • Part IV: Learning through play (read it HERE)

No comments:

Post a Comment