Summer is a wonderful time to try new things and visit unknown locations, and it offers time to improve our skills. Everyone has heard that summer learning loss causes students to return to school the next year having lost skills they had previously mastered. Summer reading is one of the best ways to combat summer learning loss while expanding knowledge about different topics. Families can read to each other by making a game out of how many books are read over the summer. Here are some simple ways to make summer reading fun and enriching.
Choose books that are interesting to the child. If you are concerned about the difficulty of the book your child picks, ask them to read the first paragraph of it to you. If there are more than five words that the child doesn’t know, it may be too difficult. We want books to challenge your child’s ability without overloading them or discouraging them. If you are near your child when they struggle with a word, look up the word in a dictionary or help the child discover the meaning of the word in the text by guessing what it might be.
Discovering new words adds to your child’s vocabulary and builds a foundation of knowledge. For example, let’s say your child is reading The Very Hunger Caterpillar by Eric Carle and comes across the word “metamorphosis.” Many children don’t recognize that word but may be able to sound it out. A quick look in the dictionary shows it means “process of transformation.” Examples include a chrysalis to a butterfly or a tadpole to a frog. A child might use the word in a sentence, such as, “I have metamorphosed my clothes into a princess or action figure.”
A child who loves art may find drawing pictures of the story or creating their own story with pictures fun to do. Creating stories about what activities you have done over the summer helps children with sequencing and memory skills and develops their creative side.
There are many “staycations” that involve day trips: a trip to the beach to collect seashells to make a necklace, a visit to Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport or one of the children’s museums in Norwalk, Hartford, Middletown or Bristol. The Dinosaur Museum in Oakdale or Montville, CT or hiking in one of the state parks, such as Huntington or Putnam Park in Bethel, Devil’s Den in Weston or Black Rock State Park in Watertown, CT, offer trails and activities to do along the way. After visits to the park, write and draw about what you saw and did at the park.
Enjoy the summer of 2018. Make it special for your families, and cut summer learning loss through reading and family activities. Don’t forget the bug spray and sunscreen. I can’t wait to get to my first book sitting by my pond, listening to the waterfall and reading!! Enjoy your summer!!
Anne E. Mead, Ed. D., is the administrator for the Early Childhood Education and Extended Learning Programs of the Danbury Public Schools. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact her at 203-830-6508 or firstname.lastname@example.org.