It’s common for children to forget a few things they learned at school when they’re on their summer holidays. This is such a regular occurrence that it has a name: the summer slump. This is when learning declines due to the lack of regular education.
Teachers expect and plan for this slump. But while research has shown that all children backslide in math, with literacy the slump is based on a child’s access to books and resources.
Once kids reach a certain age, it’s often assumed that learning takes place at school. That’s certainly true for many subjects, and one can’t expect every parent to be a fully trained educator. But it is possible to help maintain a child’s literacy levels over the summer by ensuring they have plenty of quality books to read. The problem is, once children are older, some start to associate reading with school and might not want to pick up a book over the summer.
We use the term “reluctant reader” for any child who doesn’t want to pick up a book, but a child’s reluctance to read can be for many different reasons. Reluctant does not reflect the child’s ability to read – it’s their attitude towards reading – although there can be a correlation between the two.
We believe that everyone can be a reader; they just need to find the right book. So here are a few of our tips to keep your kids reading over the summer.
Let them read what they want
Your child doesn’t need to read 400-page chapter books. Nor do they need to read anything heavy and literary if they don’t want to. (And please, please, please don’t make them read any phonics books outside of school.) Let them figure out what they like to read and encourage that. Whether it’s non-fiction, graphic novels, or picture books, let your kids decide what they are interested in reading. If your child is into gaming and wants to read gaming guides, that’s ok! Find a way to let them associate reading with fun, and eventually they might start exploring other types of books.
Model a reading habit
If your kids see you regularly reading a book, they’re more likely to take part in reading too. Don’t make reading a chore by requiring they read at certain times or even rewarding them for it like it’s homework; instead, encourage them to include reading in some of their activities. You want them to feel like they can pick up a book for their own enjoyment. For instance, remind them to pack a book when you are going to the swimming pool or on holiday, just in case they want to read. And make sure you do the same to model that behaviour!
Plan a trip to the library or a book shop
Choice is one of the most important aspects of reading, and letting a child figure out what they like to read is vital to creating a reading habit. Taking them to a library or a bookshop and telling them they can pick out one or two books allows them to put this into practice. Some children may find this overwhelming when there’s too much choice, though. In which case, having them consider what they would like to read about ahead of time can help you narrow down the options. Learning how to browse is great way to make choice as well! Let them read the first few pages and flick through the book to see if they find it interesting.
Share the books they read
Reading can feel like a solitary activity for children, but it doesn’t have to be. Encourage them to tell you about the books they’re reading. Even better, you can read the books too and start a discussion about them. They can also share the books with their friends – just remind them not to spoil anything until their friends have finished the book!
Remember: don’t be discouraged if your child seems to backtrack a little with their education over the summer. All children go through this. But with the right support and access to the type of books a child loves, you can help prevent the summer slump with their literacy levels.