(NC)—Summertime is so beautiful – filled with outdoor sports, full pink roses, warm afternoons and cool evenings. Just thinking about the summer months makes many school–aged children happy. You may remember having at least a few lazy days of summer during which you actually had the time to grab a book, relax, and read outside for a while.
The Johns Hopkins University Center for Summer Learning says that “research demonstrates that all students experience significant learning losses in procedural and factual knowledge during the summer months”. However, reading four or five books can actually enhance reading ability in an elementary school child, and instead of finishing the summer with a learning deficit, your child can finish the summer with gains, and go into the new school year with better reading and writing skills.
How can you help your child this summer and prevent a learning loss? First, think about your own likes and dislikes. If someone told you to read Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky over the summer, unless you are an aficionado of Russian novels, you may just put it off. Your child is no different. If you like to read lighter books in the summer, your child may just have the same feeling. That’s perfectly okay.
Children should read what they like to read over the summer, because it is more likely that they will read more after having discovered the joy of reading. Allow your child to experience the wonder of reading a fantasy or science fiction story, or the thrill of feeling as if he or she is at a revolutionary war battle–or on a pirate ship. Some children may like non–fiction, even during the summer, and may want to read about the universe, science, or even about travels or foods in foreign lands. Like you, they just might turn into an adult with fond memories of reading outside during the summer.
With young preschoolers, make time during the summer for reading aloud. It’s important to begin reading aloud to your child as soon as possible, because this helps to develop a sense for the rhythm and pattern of language. Kumon Math and Reading Centres offer these tips for reading with preschoolers:
• Read as often as you and your child can, and prepare for reading aloud by previewing the books you intend to read together.
• The art of listening is acquired, and so it must be taught and cultivated gradually – if you have ever had your child run away during the middle of a page, you already know about this. Read slowly enough for your child to build mental pictures of what he or she has just heard.
• Vary the subject matter and length of the books you read. Reading above your child’s reading level on occasion can motivate a child’s love of learning and helps to build vocabulary.
• If chapters are too long for one reading session, find a stopping point that generates a little suspense.
• Some children may find it difficult to sit and listen. Paper, crayons, and pencils allow them to keep their hands busy while listening.
• Talk about what you are reading. Foster your child’s curiosity and answer questions to make the entire process more enjoyable. Questions are a great way to check comprehension. And don’t be afraid to add your own personality to the story. It’s okay to make fun of pictures, or talk about words that sound silly.
Reading aloud will increase your child’s motivation to read, and will help your child to build pre–reading skills necessary for later years. Summer reading can be fun, but it can also be one of the best investments you make in the future of your child.
For more educational tips and hints to help your child make the most of their learning experience, visit www.facebook.com/kumon. To learn more about Kumon’s reading program, visit www.kumon.ca.