I thought I would visit a critical theme in the continuing education of your children: building resilient reading habits. We have all heard about the “summer slide” phenomenon, the subject of many a research study, where a surprising majority of students are found to have suffered a setback in academic progress during the summer months. The available data points to a variety of factors and results, but some of the key findings still refer back to early 2000 studies. In summary, some of the research has shown:
Teachers may spend between 3 – 4 weeks re-teaching material that students have forgotten over the summer1.
Learning or reading skill losses during the summer months are cumulative. By the time a struggling reader reaches middle school, summer reading loss has accumulated to a two-year lag in reading achievement2.
Providing books and other reading materials to children improves their attitudes toward reading, the amount of reading that they do, their acquisition of basic literacy skills, and their reading performance3.
Regardless of ethnicity, socioeconomic level, or previous achievement, children who read four or more books over the summer fare better on reading-comprehension tests in the fall than their peers who read one or no books over the summer4.
Longitudinal studies conclude that the effects of a summer learning program, of at least 2 weeks or more, can endure for at least two years after the student’s participation5
1 Alexander, Entwisle, and Olson 2007
2 Allington, 2007
3 Allington & McGill-Franzen, 2013
4 Kim, 2004
5 Jacob and Lefgren 2004, Matsudaira, 2008; McCombs, Kirby, and Mariano, 2009
As a long time educator, I firmly believe that reading, especially for the sake of enjoyment, builds healthy learning habits in all curricular areas and broadens the scope of creative/innovative thinking. As a teacher I looked to establish this habit in my students through time devoted just to reading and short, in-classroom book discussions. My expectation was at least 10 minutes a night. It is a habit that is built throughout the year, and particularly reinforced during the summer time away from school. I encourage all of us to keep our students reading and to explore the vast depths of exciting new worlds found within the pages of great books.
I look forward to seeing you all around PGUSD as we journey through the last two months of school and express my most sincere gratitude for your continued support and participation in the education of your children.
Here are five tips to help your children stay engaged with reading over the summer break, and beyond, presented by Ryan Spencer, Clinical Teaching Specialist; Lecturer in Literacy Education, at the University of Canberra, from his article “Preventing your kids’ summer reading slide” (December 29, 2014):
- Make reading time fun (and quick!)
It is easy and necessary to make reading together the most fun time of everyday. Read together with funny voices, try humorous books to engage the reluctant readers in your family. You should aim for no more than ten minutes reading together – just enough to encourage the kids to come back tomorrow. Set a timer if you need to, it will encourage them to ask for a minute or two more when reading time comes to an end.
- Visit the local library and bookstores
Make regular visits to the local public library and bookstores as part of your family’s routine. These trips are simple ways to drive reading passion. Many children are amazed when they discover that they can borrow several books from their local library for free (and probably will the first time). Discount department stores often sell brand new popular kids books for less than a movie ticket.
- Have a ‘screen free night’ each week
Make a screen free night part of your family’s regular routine (except for eReaders of course) where everyone in the family picks up something to read. Having your children see you read and talk about books adds value to this reading time. Different approaches to the screen free night may be to invest in reading lamps or book lights so that children can read in bed before sleep.
- Give books as gifts
Christmas for kids means presents, and more books in the house can never go astray. Gift the next book in the series that your child is loving. Encourage your child to lend and swap their books with friends once they have read them.
- Read together using supportive strategies
When you are reading together with your child, it’s a great idea to give them the option of how they would like to read. Provide the opportunity for children to choose whether they would like to read aloud or silently. Check if they would like to try paired reading if they feel like they need extra support with the book.
One last reminder: Visit local playgrounds, museums, and national parks. Plan ahead and read about the places you will go. Engage in dialogue with your child about the things they might see and do. Interact with others, get active and learn more about the world!
PGUSD_Superintendent_Goals_2015-16 (updated 4/21/16)