Kids can’t wait for summer to arrive. Sleeping in, watching television, and playing with friends top their list of things to do. But if you have a child who has been struggling in school, reading is probably not top on the list.
Parents often ask me if they should have their child read during the summer. And I always say yes. Of course you want your child to read. But what happens if you have a child who just doesn’t want to read? Should you push that child to read, even if the student is flat out refusing to? This is a tough call, but forcing a hesitant reader to read is a lot like asking a 300 pound person to run a marathon.
First we have to build up to the big event. And most poor readers are missing key pre-reading skills. That is an important place to start. Visual and auditory memory skills are key to reading success.
I always suggest making reading fun. Trips to the library are good. Books on tape will often keep the struggling reader engaged. Let the younger student act out parts of the book that was just read. My daughters loved setting up a tent in the living room, filling it with pillows and blankets, and having story time in their tent. Sometimes they would wait until dark so they could turn out the lights and read with flashlights.
Another game they loved when they were small were what we called reading races. They would both get a copy of the same book, one they could both easily read, and then “race” to see who finished the book first. Question time about what the book was about followed. If your child doesn’t have a sibling, then you can race with your child.
You can invent games like these to make reading more fun. Kids don’t have to sit at the kitchen table doing reading workbooks or read a book a day to foster a love of reading. And once students love to read, they will read for life.
Summer Reading Tips:
Following are some tips that will help you keep your child engaged in reading if you decide that reading is on your summer list of things to do.
1. Take turns reading. You read a sentence or paragraph and then your child reads a sentence or paragraph.
2. Get a Nook, Kindle, or Ipad if funds allow. Set the text to large. This enables the reader to read just a small portion in the window and not fatigue. Slowly make the print smaller until it matches the student’s readablity level.
3. Provide plently of exercise. You can set a timer. Your child reads for five minutes and then gets to run around the block or play a game of basketball. After ten minutes your child comes back and reads for five minutes.
4. Set up a reward system for lines read in a book. After so many lines read, the student can get a treat. It doesn’t need to be an elaborate treat, but the student will learn to associate reading with a reward instead of disappointment.
5. Play visual memory games such as concentration. Visual memory is a key building block for reading.
6. Play auditory memory games, too. One that I love is the “animal” game. You think of an animal that starts with the letter a. Your child must then repeat your animal and then come up with an animal that starts with the letter b. You then say both animals already named and then add an animal that starts with the letter c. The game goes back and forth until someone has a “breakdown”, at which point you start all over again.