Keep Kids Reading This Summer: Q&A With Dr. Mary

Flickr photo by austinevan

Today Dr. Mary discusses ways to keep your child actively reading during the summertime when school's out.

Q: What can I do to keep my 9-year-old from falling behind in reading over the summer? He has become a great reader this year.


A: Otherwise know as "summer slide," "summer brain drain," "summer learning loss," or "regression," the summer months kids are off from school can have an impact on the progress they've made during the school year. We know that, in general, most kids' math skills decline over the summer months, and kids who are from low income backgrounds tend to lose reading and spelling skills as well. It's thought that math skills, rather than reading, tend to drop for all students because reading is an activity that's done more routinely and naturally in households. Reading skills of children from middle and higher income families tend to stay stable or improve slightly over the summer months, possibly because of greater access to books and other educational opportunities.

Overall, students may range from showing little or no academic growth to losing one to three months of learning over summer break. The good news is that there are fun, easy things that you can do to help your child maintain his reading skills.

Read aloud a lot. Hopefully, your summer schedule will be less hectic than the one you have during the school year. Kids of all ages love to hear stories, and reading aloud has benefits on many levels. Take turns reading pages from the same book, have your older child read to you and your younger kids, or find a storyteller in your area. Try to do this daily.

Stock up on reading material. Seems obvious that in order to read, you should have reading material, right? Parents sometimes forget that there is more to reading than books. Magazines (American Girl, National Geographic Kids, and Sports Illustrated for Kids are some examples that I like), newspapers, and other printed materials are good alternatives to books and just as beneficial. Let your child choose what he wants to read (as long as it's appropriate, of course), including popular fiction.

Be a reading role model. Showing your kids that you read regularly, both for fun and to gain information, tells them it's an activity that's valued and important. Set aside a family reading time each day where everyone drops what they're doing and reads for 30 minutes.

Read about it first. Whether you're vacationing overseas, visiting an exhibit at your local museum, or going to a concert, have your child read about the event beforehand. Read the same book as your child and discuss it.

Befriend the library. Take advantage of your library's summer reading programs for kids. These are usually free, fun, and good motivators for children to read. Spend some extra time at the library browsing the sections with your child. Get your child a library card. Make your library visits a regular activity.

Listen to books. Listening to books on CDs in the car or at home as a family is a great way to share a story with your child.

Discuss. Talk to your child about what he's reading. Ask questions. Solicit his opinion about what he's read.

Helping your child maintain his reading skills throughout the summer can be fun for you both.

Dr. Mary Rosen is here each week to provide answers to your most pressing school issues. She's a school psychologist, licensed counselor, graduate school instructor, and parent.

Got a question about school learning and behaviors for Dr. Mary? Leave it in the comments below or email us and Dr. Mary may answer your questions in a future post.

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