Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Summer Reading

As a second grade teacher, I didn't issue much homework. (I don't believe in much homework for the younger grades.) But every night, without fail, my students were to read for at least twenty minutes. I'm sure any of you with children in school are quite familiar with the routine! But then summer comes, and between pool parties and popsicles and family camping trips, it can be really easy to let that good habit slip. And what a shame for summer to become a time of plateau (or worse!). Today I have a few simple ideas to make summer reading fun and memorable. (And don't click away just yet if your children are tiny. These apply at all stages of literacy.)

1. TIME--Make sure reading happens every single day. Set a specific time if that helps.

2. TO, WITH, and BY-- In all of my literacy education, the real buzz phrase was Balanced Literacy. One aspect of that means that there should be reading to, with, and by. In other words, every day you should read aloud to your child (even with older children--choose some fun family chapter books), aloud with your child (this is called shared reading, and is most important for emerging readers), and your child should also read by himself. (Even if you don't have an independent reader yet, try to help your young child learn how fun it can be to sit alone with a book and tell himself the story using the pictures.)3. CHART PROGRESS--Obviously there are a zillion ways to do this. A sticker chart, a paper chain, a simple list, etc. My favorite way is to make a looooong caterpillar. Each book gets written on a circle, and up it goes on the wall. For Blaine's we're using dark green circles for the books I read to him, and light green circles for the books he reads to me. So fun!

4. USE YOUR RESOURCES--Most local libraries have a summer reading program. Sign your kids up! There are usually special activities, prizes, etc. Plus, a trip to the library can really break up a long, hot summer day!

5. CELEBRATE--I'm really big on internal incentives. In other words, the ultimate goal is for our children to love reading and to feel good about themselves as their reading skills improve. But I also understand that little rewards go a long way. Help your children set a goal for their summer reading. Depending on the child, it might be to read a certain number of books or pages, or maybe to advance reading levels or improve comprehension. Celebrate with a family party or special meal out.

As with everything, your excitement will set the tone. The more you love to read and learn, the more your children will.

More summer reading ideas? Pray, tell!


Jesslyn said...

Great tips!! Love the idea of the caterpillar.

Andrea said...

That caterpillar is so fun. I love that you vary the colors depending on whether you or your son read the book. What a cute idea.

This year we just made simple little reading journals where we can track the books we read. But I like the idea of doing something more visual, too, especially for my younger two kiddos. I think I just might steal your caterpillar idea:).

Kim said...

I can't begin to tell you how important it is to continue reading over the summer. The summer my now 9 year olds finished 1st grade we were very lax about reading and practicing the piano. Towards the end of the summer I figured that we needed to get back into the swing of things to get ready for school. My other kids picked up just fine, but much to my dismay, I discovered that one of my boys had literally forgotten how to read. He could sound out very simple words but that was about it. He also forgot how to play the piano. He told me that when he would look at the words or the music he knew that he used to know what they meant but couldn't remember anymore. Since then, we make a point to NEVER stop. The times we have had breaks in reading/practicing due to trips etc, we find the same thing happens. It has been very frustrating for my son to get back on track after these lapses so we focus a lot on never missing these things. Like Anne said, Read to them, with them and have them read alone. It makes a HUGE difference.

Sugar Mama said...

oh i love the caterpillar idea! my kids are motivated to read with the summer library reading program; they get free stuff. Hey, whatever it takes!

Kristyn said...

Love Kim's comment about not stopping! This is a great post - thank you!

And I'm definitely going to do the caterpillar idea!