Parents and students rejoice!
School is out and everyone can now experience a great sense of freedom. Kids want to be outside enjoying summer weather and; although it’s the most wonderful season for non-academic activities involving swimming, traveling, and hiking to name a few, let us not forget that summer loss is a serious long-term result of not opening a book or writing for eight weeks.
What can you do to prevent this?
Create a Drop Everything and Read Time on your comfy living room couch or on a blanket under a shade tree. Set the kitchen-stove timer for 30 minutes as your child settles down with a quality book recommended by their teacher or public library. Reward them afterwards with positive feedback and anything else you deem appropriate – perhaps a frozen treat - before they head outside again to play.
Later, at the dinner table, ask them to summarize what they’ve read asking them the five W’s plus How. Who, what, when, where, why, and how? Ask them to tell you the main problem in the story so far; describe the main character experiencing the problem and the setting of the story (time and place). Talk about the idea of freedom and how the main character wants to become free from a problem. Discuss the meaning of responsibility, and what the main character might need to change, outside and inside of themselves, to take charge of the problem and facilitate a solution.
Then, stretch your child’s thinking skills and ask them to stand in that character’s shoes and decide what they could do to become responsible and free of the character’s problem.
Finally, ask your child to write a book review: what did they love about the book and what did they learn from it? Characters change and grow from the beginning to the end of the story. Connecting your life’s experiences with your child and the story’s character add important value to your child’s reading comprehension.
Share and talk about it! Your child will also grow this summer by reading many books in a variety of genres. Help them grow in the following ways: visit the library weekly, establish DEAR time, monitor reading with a timer, and support guided conversation and critical thinking skills. Set goals for reading one or two books a week of fiction, non-fiction, historical fiction, biography, and poetry. Choose topics that interest your child and align with their hobbies. Pay attention to the questions they ask or have asked in the past that reveal their curiosities. Work with a librarian to choose age-appropriate books, making sure the vocabulary is a good fit. Finally, to record their accomplishments, have your child create a chart showing title, author, genre, and page count. Hang it up for everyone to admire!
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