Help kids avoid the summer slide by fostering a love of reading

The “summer slide” describes a student’s tendency to fall behind in academic progress over the summer months. Each year, many children of all ages face challenges as they begin school in the fall because of the break from reading and learning over the summer months.

Boy on bench laughingChildren who do not maintain a steady academic pace during the break are more likely to fall behind while learning the fall curriculum at school. It’s recommended that parents read with children for at least 20 minutes each day. When parents take steps to ensure their child develops a summer reading hobby, they are helping to significantly increase their children’s success rate during the coming school year.

Read aloud to your child
Take the opportunity of reading aloud to your child as a chance to build literacy skills while creating a parent-child bond and showing that reading is a fun activity. Be animated, use voices and make the time count by being interactive. Engage your child by asking them about the storyline and characters.

Pro Parent Tip: Take the extra step to make funny voices, act scenes out or, if possible, even watch the movie version after reading the book.

Create a fun reading space
A fun reading space is a great way to encourage your child’s imagination and engage them in reading. A personalized reading space could be any area in your home, from a special comfy chair to a designated reading nook. Give your child the reigns to pick a theme and decorate their space. Help encourage their creativity and involvement by recommending themes from fairy tales, superheroes, under the sea and more. A sense of ownership in creating a fun reading space will help encourage excitement towards reading.

Choose books within your child’s age-appropriate reading level
Choosing books within your child’s age-appropriate reading level will ensure that young children are not discouraged by reading books that are too difficult for them so they aren’t bored of reading books too easily. While reading within their level, children should be able to remain engaged and build literacy skills.

According to Scholastic, parents can determine if a book is in their child’s reading level by having them choose a page in the middle and identify each word they don’t understand. If your child cannot understand more than five words on the page, the book may be too difficult.

Always keep books handy
Convenience is key to preserving children’s ongoing reading routines. Having a book handy in all places will help children keep a consistent reading schedule or reach a goal number of books per week. Parents can keep books everywhere including the kitchen, bedroom and more. The back of seats in the car typically have pockets that are perfect for storing many books for long trips or short errand runs around town.

Lead by example
Parents can lead by example when they read books themselves. Many children strive to mirror their parents’ behaviors and hobbies. Reading books or magazines are great ways for adults to be an example and encourage their child to help build healthy reading habits.

While cooking dinner, parents can read cookbooks and recipes aloud to show their children that reading is both fun and useful. Setting aside 20 minutes each day after dinner time or before bedtime for family reading is another great way to lead by example while helping children build daily literacy routines.

All content in this article, including any advice or commentary from Southwest Human Development staff and/or others, should be considered an opinion and is provided for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for medical or other professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the direct advice of your own trusted professional with any questions or concerns you may have regarding the child/ren in your care. Southwest Human Development does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, products, procedures or other information that may be mentioned in this article. You may contact Southwest Human Development’s Birth to Five Helpline at 1-877-705-KIDS (5437) to speak with one of our early childhood professionals for personalized assistance. Birth to Five Helpline specialists are available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.