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Does suggesting reading over the summer immediately give your child the blues?

For a lot of students, being asked to read during time off from school can feel like a punishment or nuisance, causing summer reading blues. But summer vacation actually provides a wonderful opportunity to explore different types of literature and purposes for reading. It might even be the perfect time to help your child develop a love of reading or inspire a frustrated learner.

In class, assignments frequently include content that many students have trouble relating to, especially those with reading difficulties. While these selections are still beneficial, activities and texts that are directly focused on your child’s specific interests can have a substantial impact. Over the next several weeks, we’ll share at home activities that may help motivate young readers and further skills over the summer months. We encourage you to respond to these posts with ideas of your own that others might enjoy.

Beating The Summer Reading Blues By Reading with Purpose

Try a New Recipe

Following a recipe is a practical application for reading that early learners often overlook. Creating a new dish with your child or as a family also provides a great opportunity to model rereading, as a way to improve understanding that’s used by good readers, and counter the misconception many children have about it being a weakness. We recommend selecting a simple recipe with a small number of ingredients to start.

For learners with decoding difficulty, you can try pointing out a tool, like a teaspoon, then matching it to the recipe text and asking your child to look at the recipe to confirm how many teaspoons of each ingredient are needed. This can also be done with ingredients by placing a number of items from the recipe on the counter, ahead of time, and asking your child to tell you how much of each is needed or what steps to follow. Pointing out tools and ingredients in advance will allow your child to approach unknown words in the recipe with less uncertainty and may build confidence.

Writing Connection: Try changing the recipe a little by adding or replacing an ingredient. If the meals a hit, ask your child to write a new recipe that you can use to recreate the dish in the future. Be sure to stress the need to include all steps in order and descriptive words that will make the directions easy to follow. Younger writers can add illustrations to the recipe text.

Math Connection: Ask your child to help you determine how much of each ingredient is needed if you decide to cut the recipe in half or double it. You can also work together to convert units, like ounces to cups or vice versa, when the recipe quantity differs from the unit on the ingredient label.

Similar Activity: Try reading the directions together when building a model car or boat. You can even create your own set of written instructions for your child to follow as you work together on a home improvement project, like redecorating a room.

Go on a Scavenger Hunt

Another way to beat the summer reading blues is to explore the different purposes for reading, such as creating a scavenger hunt list.  Students are asked to locate the same information in different genres or mediums around the house. For example, the list may include a fiction and nonfiction story about a dog; a recipe, pantry, and freezer item with at least one common ingredient listed; or a DVD, app, and video game with three or more words in common in their title or description.

Writing Connection: Have your child write directions for the next scavenger hunt, making sure all items listed can be found fairly easily around the house in safe locations.

Have a Dictionary Race

This activity can be done online or by using several copies of the same dictionary and focuses on alphabetizing, decoding, comprehension, and vocabulary development. Participants should sit next to each other with their (online or hand held) dictionaries closed. One person calls out a word and participants race to locate it in the dictionary. The first student to locate the word raises a hand before reading the definition aloud. Bonus points can be given for creating an original sentence with the word and teams can be used for groups with readers of varying levels.

Writing connection: Challenge participants to use 5 of the words from the game correctly in a paragraph.

Silly Voicemail Messages

Outgoing phone messages are a necessity that can also be used to beat the summer reading slide.  Create a detailed voicemail message for the family phone line (ex. a brief story of a fantastic adventure the family is on or has just returned from that’s preventing them from answering the phone). Once everyone’s agreed on the message, have your child practice reading the script several times with expression before recording. Try changing the message every few weeks to encourage ingenuity.

It’s OK to Make Mistakes

Try not to draw attention to every error during these activities. Mistakes will happen as readers take new risks and sound out more challenging words. That’s part of learning. If an error doesn’t impact the overall meaning of a sentence or will likely be self-corrected once your child’s had time to think about what was read, then pointing it out might only serve to negatively impact confidence or willingness to participate.

If needed, you can model saying a word the correct way without mentioning that it was misread. For example, if a child says you should steer the soup, simply respond by saying “OK. Let me get a spoon to stir it with.”

Summer is a great time to work on reading. Let us know what fun and interesting methods you use to keep your child engaged and reading over the summer while avoiding the summer reading blues.