Ways to get your child to read this summer

Filed under: Activities: Babies, Big Kids, Tweens

Classroom Connection

At the end of the school year parents often ask me is how much should their child be reading independently over the summer? I could answer this several ways. As a mom, I get that summer time is meant for lounging, for late mornings, summer camp, and unstructured afternoons. And certainly I get how it might not be a kid's number one favorite thing to do to sit down with a good book... But as a teacher this makes my heart ache.

Okay, maybe I'm being a twinge dramatic. Still, I don't know a single teacher who doesn't wish her students were spending the summer sprawled out on the lawn reading one good book after the next, instead of say, playing with his new Nintendo Wii, or watching episodes of High School Musical. But the truth is, there is time during the summer for both: for extra screen time, and for time spent engaged in a good book-every day.

Here is why this is important: any school age child will make progress over the summer if he or she continues to practice read. It's like any thing else in life really. Becoming a confident and fluent reader, like getting in shape or learning a new sport, requires daily practice. Without the daily practice, kids can regress by a month or more, which can result in them starting the new school year scrambling to catch up.

A good rule of thumb for summer reading: you child should read at a minimum ten minutes per day for each grade they've completed (10 minute for First, 20 for Second, etc.) Ideally, your child should be spending this time independently with a book. This builds stamina, and focus, which are two crucial aspects of being an independent reader. If your child is not yet an independent reader, spend this time every day reading with your child.

Some things you can do to make summer reading into a fun and rewarding habit for your kids:

· Make a special "reading nook" or place in the house that your child can go to read quietly. Ideally, you should be able to see and hear your child reading, but your child should be out of the way of central activities taking place in the household.

· Buy your child a bunch of fun stickers-and keep track of the time he reads by putting stickers on a book mark. 1 sticker for every 10 minutes.

· Get a fun kitchen timer and set it-or get a digital timer-so that your child can see the time ticking down. This especially helps highly distracted kiddos who want to dash off to other things!

· Reward your child for every 50 minutes read with something fun and reading related: a trip to the library, or bookstore for a new book of their choice. Or they could be rewarded by spending some time on a fun interactive reading website. (More to come on this! Keep an eye out.)

· Switch things up every few days: send your child on a word hunt around the house-finding as many words as she can that fit a particular spelling patter or rule (such as words that rhyme with CAT or are spelled with the same 'silent e' rule as CAKE and SAFE.)

· Set a goal for the whole summer-take out the calendar and count by tens together-all the days they can possibly read (skipping days set aside for camp, family trips, weekend adventures, etc.) Then decide on a reward for achieving the goal.

A few other things that are really important to keep in mind: almost every child does best with highly focused activities like reading first thing in the morning. Don't save independent reading time for just before bed. Carve out some quite time right after breakfast. Send littler siblings out into the back yard, or get them busy with a drawing project. Reward everyone by reading for a few minutes from a picture book or chapter book on the couch.

Creating a book nook for kids(click thumbnails to view gallery)

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.