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June 20, 2015

Summer reading series

Summer is here, and that means sunshine and outdoors and fun! Last summer, I offered you a series of fun math games to help keep your kids entertained while also sharpening their math skills. This summer, my focus is on reading. I know we could all use a break from school, and the last thing some of your kids want to hear is, “Time for READING!!!” But don’t cave in!! As a teacher, I have seen numerous children actually start the school year at a lower reading level than they finished at the previous school year. I literally see their report cards telling me the student finished “at grade level,” and yet they are unable to read through the exact same mini book they had mastered just a few months before. What is the cause of this unfortunate phenomenon??

A book-less summer.

Sad.

Maybe you want to give your child a break from working so hard over the school year and feel like reading is for homework and teachers. I hope you will try to instead see books as the gateway to adventure, imagination, and mental growth for your child! Summer is a great time to encourage your children to read (almost) whatever they want and to develop a love of reading. Allow them to just take pleasure in consuming books that will take them all over the world, into the future, or back in time. Many public libraries have great reading programs that encourage children to dig into books, so take a trek out sometime and see what strikes their fancy!

For every student who started off fourth grade at a lower level than they finished third grade, there were just as many children who entered fourth grade one or two reading levels higher than they finished third grade. It wasn’t because their parents sat by their side and read with them every day or sent them to tutoring programs. They simply had access to books and read them regularly over the summer! As I’ve shared before, simply consuming books at the right reading level is oftentimes all it takes to help young readers move to the next level in reading. So I urge you this summer to encourage your children to read. It could be the difference of falling behind, or starting with their best foot forward at the start of the next year!

Now that I’ve thoroughly hammered in that point, let’s talk about taking further steps to move your child to the next level. Maybe your child finished the school year a little behind in reading. Maybe they just barely met “grade level expectations.” Maybe you just want to continue to hone their love of reading and see where else you can take this.

No matter what the report card says about your child’s reading abilities, reading together can be a special time and wonderful growing opportunity emotionally and mentally for you and your child. Before I was a teacher, I thought students would be embarrassed to “meet me in the back” of the classroom for guided reading groups. I thought they would surely prefer reading in the private comfort of their desks, hiding their mispronunciations and reading levels from the rest of the class. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Students loved it whenever I called them to read with me in the back.

I soon saw that guided reading time was a time they knew they would get focused attention from me. More importantly, it became a time when they really, truly enjoyed reading books. Even reluctant readers enjoyed this time, and I think it’s because I always selected books I knew they could handle and also guided them through reading it. This ensured that they would have solid comprehension and were able to really enjoy the stories in a way they rarely did when reading on their own.

My hope is that you can do the same for your child. Even if your child is a reluctant reader, your guidance and support and partnership in reading can make a huge difference. Your child will not only enjoy spending that special time with you, but you will also be able to look into your child’s mind as a reader and pinpoint areas for growth and take practical steps to help them improve.

I have about ten drafts started on various topics to do with reading with your child, and all of them are geared toward helping you help your child grow as a reader. (And I haven’t even cut to the meat of things with those ten drafts. Lord help me!). It feels like a daunting project, but it’s something I’m passionate about and something I hope will make a real difference in children’s (and families’) lives. Stay tuned this summer to learn more about how to make the most of reading time with your child!

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