As much as teachers love summer vacation, there’s always a little (actually, big) panic that sets in as we pack up the classrooms and send our children off during those three lazy months of fun in the sun. What if they never pick up a book? Oh, and they were so close in learning all their math facts- will they forget? We’ve worked so diligently teaching skills and the kids have learned so much—what if when they return in September and they forget? The loss of skills during the summer in the educational world is known as “The Summer Slide” and it is very real. Research indicates that children who live in poverty consistently lose 2 months of reading performance and that those loses accumulate each year during the elementary grades. This means that by middle school a student can be up to 2 ½ years behind! According to research, two-thirds of the 9th grade reading achievement gap can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities during the summer months during elementary. Crazy, right?
So, what’s the answer? With dwindling funds in education, summer school and enrichment programs are often the first things on the chopping block. Although I am supportive of summer programs, it’s only one option to lessen the effects of summer loss. In fact, there are many no-cost ways of not only eliminating summer reading loss, but accelerating learning over the summer. Evidence suggests that simply giving students a set of self-selected books on the last day of school or offering opportunities such as opening up the library one day week may be enough to eliminate the summer loss. Could it really be that simple? Surprisingly, providing books to read during the summer produced as much reading growth as did sending students to summer school (Allington 2010). We must ensure that our children have books in their hands. Below are a few fun and simple ways to keep our kiddos engaged with learning during the summer.
1. Visit your local library! Help your child find “right fit books. Right fit books are books that are of high interest to your child and are not beyond their reading level. You can use the five finger test to determine if the book is too difficult for your child. Open the book to a page with many words. Have your child begin reading the text. Hold up a finger for each word he/she does not know. If you have 4 or 5 fingers up, the text may be too difficult for your child to read independently. Feel free to still check out the book! It just may be a book you want to read with your child.
Click the following link to download this file Finding the Right Fit Book
2. Be sure your child reads at least 20 minutes a day. According to research, a child who reads only 1 minute a day outside of school will learn 8,000 words by the end of sixth grade where a student who reads 20 minutes outside of school will learn 1,800,000 words! That’s huge! If reading isn’t one of your child’s top priorities, you may need to set up an incentive program.
I found these “Mark My Time” book marks at Walmart. They can be a great motivator to ensure that your child reads at least 20 minutes a day. If your child already enjoys reading, you probably wouldn’t need to use this. We want children to read for the pure enjoyment of reading. Some children just need a little bit more structure and incentive.
3. Set a good example. When your child sees you reading and enjoying a book or a newspaper article, you are sending a message that reading is important and valuable.
4. Read to your child. When you read to your child, he/she hears the rhythm of language. Be sure to read with expression! Changing your voice for the different characters in the story and increasing volume for exciting parts are only a few ways to make reading interesting.
5. Read with your child –explore different types of reading like poetry. For our little ones, poetry is great way to improve phonemic awareness skills as poetry often incorporates rhyme. For our older children, poetry is a means of improving fluency.
6. Read for different purposes. Reading directions for a recipe or directions for assembling a toy are fun ways to incorporating reading.
7. Games with Words. There are tons of ways to have fun learning letters and sight words. Check out my earlier blog post 8 Super Summer Sight Word Activities for a few ideas.
8. If you have an iPad, try downloading a few interactive books. There are also lots of reading games that keep children engaged.
Click the following link to download this FREE handout Summer Slide Handout
Did you know that teachers typically spend the first month of school reteaching skills? Let’s get going! Make this summer a summer of learning and fun!
I am really envious of my friends and colleagues who are organized. I am just not one of those people. I’ll confess my computer files are a mess. Files are saved on several different computers, in different folders and under a variety of file names. Well, conferences are coming up soon and I’m on a mission this morning to organize all my handouts and put them into one file on my hard drive and under file names that I can easily recognize. It was my goal to have a parent handout developed for each of the 5 Big Ideas of Reading Instruction–Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, Fluency, Vocabulary and Reading Comprehension–and to have them grade specific. Well, I’m not quite done yet. I have yet to develop the Vocabulary and Phonics handouts. I am hoping, though, that you find the ones that I have completed helpful.
Click the following link to download the Learning Sight Words parent handout Learning Sight Words
Click the following link to download the kindergarten phonemic awareness handout Phonemic Awareness Parent Handout- Kindergarten
Click the following link to download the first grade phonemic awareness handout Phonemic Awareness Parent Handout- First Grade
Click the following link to download the parent handout for oral reading fluency Oral Reading Fluency- Parent
Click the following link to download the parent handout for reading comprehension Reading Comprehension-Parent
While I was researching the information to create the parent handouts, I found that there was great information for teachers to have that I didn’t quite want to put into the parent handouts. So what I did was create teacher companion handouts. Again, I am still working on the Vocabulary and Phonics handouts, but hope you find the ones I’ve created useful.
As the school year ends, parents often ask for suggestions on how to help their child at home over the summer months. Last year I developed several parent handouts to address specific areas of reading. The Learning Sight Words handout provides suggestions for teaching and reinforcing sight words. This handout is most appropriate for kindergarten and first grade students.
Click the following link to download this free two page handout. Learning Sight Words
For first, second and third grade students, the Oral Reading Fluency handout may be helpful.
Click the following link to download this free two page parent handout. Oral Reading Fluency-Parent
Oh, Yeah! It’s DIBELS testing week. I absolutely love listening to those kiddos read and seeing the progress they’ve made since the beginning of the year. Okay, I’d admit, after the 5th day of testing, I nearly have the story of the “Cocoa Stand” memorized and I am a little giddy. I test over 200 students in a week, and typically first graders, so I can almost recite those oral reading passages verbatim.
Over the past few years we’ve developed numerous versions of our parent handout that we provide for parents following each benchmark period. It’s a little tricky coming up with a handout that explains the assessment and the results in a way that provides them with the information we feel that they need while trying to make it clear and consise. The following handouts were field tested in our schools and found to be helpful.
Click the following link to download your free DIBELS Next Kindergarten handout for parents Kindergaraten DIBELS Next
Click the following link to download your free DIBELS Next first grade parent handout. DIBELS Next- First Grade
Just as an FYI- If you are implementing a Response to Intervention model, documentation of parent communication is required. These handouts assist in that regard.
Click HERE to download free DIBELS Next handouts for Kindergarten through sixth grade.