Lifestyle

Keep your children reading to avoid the 'summer slide'

Children who do not read regularly during the summer may return at a level two to three months behind where they were at the beginning of summer. But children who read and write every day, all summer long, return to school in the fall with gains of two or three months of skill. - Courtesy photo from Joan Tornow
Children who do not read regularly during the summer may return at a level two to three months behind where they were at the beginning of summer. But children who read and write every day, all summer long, return to school in the fall with gains of two or three months of skill.
— image credit: Courtesy photo from Joan Tornow

Summer vacation! What a great time for children to enjoy swimming, riding bikes, going to the park, and visiting friends and relatives.

It’s also a great time to curl up with a great book. And it’s a perfect time to write stories, letters — maybe even a child’s own version of a comic book.

Add reading and writing to children’s summer schedule. Children leave school in June at the “top of their game.” After nine months of intensive reading and writing instruction, they need to continue using these skills all summer. Otherwise, their skills may slip away in what is called “summer slide.”

Children who do not read regularly during the summer may return at a level two to three months behind where they were at the beginning of summer. But children who read and write every day, all summer long, return to school in the fall with gains of two or three months of skill.

The simple and pleasurable act of reading makes for stronger readers and better students. The good news is that reading and writing can be happily woven into every day, even a day spent at the pool or ball park.

Get books into the hands of children

The Federal Way libraries are committed to children’s reading. A library card is free and lets children check out numerous books all summer long. Borrowing books costs nothing, as long as books are returned when due. Establishing a weekly routine of going to the library helps to inspire young readers.

Sign up for the King County Library System's Summer Reading Program 2012. Our two local public libraries have a summer reading program in which children receive a reading log and record how many minutes they read each day.

At 500 minutes, they get a “halfway” prize of glow-in-the-dark mini-stars, and at 1,000 minutes, they get a “finisher” prize of LED flashing glasses.

Those who finish by Aug. 31 may enter their name in a drawing for a Netbook computer. Both libraries also present free weekly performances for children.

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Joan Tornow, Ph.D., is the author of Every Child is a Writer (Heinemann). Her articles have appeared in many educational journals, including Our Children: The National PTA Magazine and Young Children (NAEYC). In Federal Way, she serves on the Board of Communities In Schools.

 

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