Navigating the Summer Reading Doldrums

One of the most challenging aspects of the US education system for the 70% of children who don’t really love reading is the long summer break.  It can be a huge momentum stopper.  Despite all the best intentions in the world, it’s really hard to get an unwilling reader to read over summer when there are so many other “fun” activities competing for his/her time. And so they don’t read. Hence the famous summer reading slide.

And so, as we all know,  the numbers are not pretty.  Studies come out all over the place, but for that population, the 70% who don’t love reading, it takes them until the end of October to get back to where they were in June.

That’s almost a third of a year lost, every year. It’s not surprising that this is one of the main reasons special education effectiveness stats are so disappointing.

And of course, for the 30% who read regularly, they keep reading over summer.  And so typically they pick up in September at or above where they left off.

What To Do Over Summer

Good question.  It depends.  It depends on your child’s attitude to reading.

For Reluctant Readers

If your child is a reluctant reader, as opposed to a resistant reader, then simple encouragement or offering an incentive might work.  It’s a controversial idea, to incentivize or pay your child to read.  Some will argue that it might create a mercenary attitude to reading meaning your child will only read if paid!  And/or it could create an attitude that reading is work.

Neither of these outcomes are desirable and you need to think about how your child would react to incentives.

However, if you think he/she will see it as a bit of fun, and the summer reading slide is a concern, then here are the best ways to do it:

  • Look for a library reading club or reading program that uses Accelerated Reader. This program quizzes children after they have read a book and gives them points based on the book’s length and difficulty.  It has the added advantage of letting you know which books are in your child’s reading zone, called the zone of proximal development – not too hard as to defeat, and not too easy so as to be boring.
  • Check out BookAdventure.com. This is a do-it-yourself version of a library club.  It does not have as many quizzes as Accelerated Reader, limiting your child’s choices a bit, but there are 3,000+ books, so you should have no problem finding books your child would like.

Tips to Make The Most of Summer

Invest some time on book selection. Just right books is not just a concept for 1st and 2nd grade.  The summer will go much better if your child is reading books in his zone on subjects he cares about.  And if summer goes well, and you are not pestering your child to read, then the risk of a summer reading slide is reduced.

Furthermore, while structure is important to try to avoid the summer reading slide, it is summer.  And so if you have vacations, take them.  Don’t stress about reading every day.  Save the structure for the week’s of summer where there is a routine.

The routine is part of what will help your child stay the course.

For Resistant Readers

Here’s where Gemm Learning can help.  Resistant readers need something more engaging than a book. And for them, there’s more than a summer reading slide at stake. They are stuck, and you need a change agent.  Also, they need something interactive.

Over summer, Gemm Learning has interactive programs in three levels of intensity:

  • Non judgmental remote monitoring of reading
  • Interactive exercises to fill in reading gaps
  • Adaptive reading remediation aimed at underlying causes

Monitored Reading

Gemm Learning can provide Reading Assistant. Students read a range of texts that might interest them out loud, monitored by our software.  Reading Assistant picks up errors at pre-set levels and provides a way for your child to read without the drama of your parental oversight.

At the end of each text, your child answers comprehension questions and you will receive reports.  There are a range of texts available, at various levels of difficulty and covering all kinds of subject matter.  Most children are able to find texts of interest.

If your child tunes into Reading Assistant over summer, far from a summer reading slide, research suggests he will actually make quite good progress.

Filling in Reading Gaps

Our Fast ForWord reading software has a series of age-appropriate reading programs that works on spelling, vocabulary, decoding and reading comprehension.  It’s 30 minutes a day, and adaptive, meaning your child will work mainly on the aspects of reading needing help.

You will receive weekly reports.

Reading Remediation

This is our core program.  It is not about stopping a summer reading slide.  Rather, it is about turning around a reading malaise, a bad relationship to reading, reading difficulty — either slow reading, labored reading or lacking reading comprehension.

Using the full Fast ForWord suite our aim is nothing less than resolving the impediments to reading success for your child, and setting them on a path to being a comfortable reader.  Only then will he put in the reading mile,s the reading practice to become a proficient reader.

We can offer this program in a 30-minute, summer-friendly format.  However, many struggling readers find the school year exhausting.  And so summer, free of day to day school stress, is seen by many of our clients as an opportunity to work on our program and to try to change their child’s life story.  These clients choose our popular Summer Intensive, 90 minutes a day where we cram in 4-5 months of exercise in 2 summer months.

Your Next Step

If your child is a resistant reader, please call 877-914-9366 and ask one of our consultants about your options.
Copyright: chris_elwell / 123RF Stock Photo