Spring break is coming to an end and that’s a sure sign summer vacation will be here before we know it. When students go on summer vacation it is important for them to be mentally challenged. Why? Students who aren’t engaged in learning activities don’t retain information learned during the school year and often start the following year behind their counterparts who do grow their brains in the summer.
“All young people experience learning losses when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer,” according to the National Summer Learning Association. Low-income students who aren’t engaged in summer activities typically lose more than two months in reading achievement over the summer.
This summer, as an educator or parent, how can you influence students to adopt a reading culture at home? If you teach, consider sending home a reading list to all your students or lend books from your personal classroom library. As a parent, what can you do to ensure your child has access to books over the summer, or reading groups around popular topics, or writing workshops where they can reflect on what they’ve read? You can take weekly trips to the library where they can check out a bag of books, even those they aren’t sure about. You can also start a book exchange in your neighborhood.
Recently, the Common Core Standards for English/language arts has been adopted by all but four states and requires educators to teach how to read non-fiction literature, as well as fiction. Students might not consider picking up a book about castles, how to bake a pie, or build a watch, but reading informational texts can give them a more fully developed repertoire of reading. Learning how to read informational texts is important for students because it exercises different reading skills. Fiction usually has a beginning, middle, and end, a plot, characters, dialogue, and themes. Nonfiction doesn’t provide the same structure for readers as fiction does, and requires practice — just as everything else does — in order to master it. This summer, you can help younger kids hone these non-fiction reading skills by finding a science blog for kids online or subscribe older kids to magazines like Smithsonian or National Geographic.
How can you personally help promote literacy this summer and fight summer learning losses? At LifeBound, we believe summer reading can change lives. If you work with disadvantaged or impoverished students, ask us about our book donation program for summer reading in the comments or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Districts Gear Up for Shift to Informational Texts,” by Catherine Gewertz. 14 March 2012. Education Week. Accessed on 30 March 2012. http://www.edweek.org/
The National Summer Learning Association – http://www.summerlearning.