Summer is a difficult time to have regular family routines. However, including reading every day can help children stay on track with their language and reading skills. For ways to help children learn see grandparentsteachtoo.org and wnmufm.org pod casts “Learning Through the Seasons.”
Children need three million words from adults before kindergarten.
That seems like a staggering amount unless this time is scheduled every day as quiet and active activity times that include talking together. Taking neighborhood walks or attending a city attraction is a good time to discuss what children are experiencing. Grandparents can help build that vocabulary storehouse by planning interesting visits around town that parents may not be able to arrange.
Talk during the visit and print their words on paper. Perhaps take pictures and make a storybook they can “read.” This helps children get the feel of reading and be praised for it.
Library visits are critical during the summer. Bring home a variety of fiction and nonfiction books, and attend library programs. Then sit in a cozy spot, read with good expression and discuss the story. Connect relaxation and resting with reading a book.
As your children are learning letters and beginning sounds, occasionally ask them to identify some on a page. Ask children questions about the story (who, what, when, where, why and how) to check for comprehension. Read favorite books many times until children can pretend to read the book themselves. Perhaps they can retell some of it. Encourage children to dress up like the characters and act it out.
Once children are in first grade, it is very important to practice reading every day. Children can practice to avoid a summer slide backward that requires reteaching in the fall while other students zoom ahead. Summer, after all, is one third as long as a school year.
Ten to 20 minutes reading out loud every day makes a difference. There is a rule of five to help choose books. If your children put a finger on five or more words that they don’t know on a typical page, they probably need help reading the book. It doesn’t mean they shouldn’t choose it, just that they will need help and tire easily.
Perhaps take turns reading paragraphs. Read at the same time so they mimic your good expression. If they don’t know a word, tell them after giving them time to think. Watch for correct reading of punctuation. Stop and lower pitch for periods at the end of sentences. Raise pitch at question marks. Pause at commas and sound excited at exclamation marks. Expression helps comprehension.
Look for books with reading levels and chapter books like “ The Magic Tree House” series. Your librarians will help. Keep track of reading minutes and give rewards, including special activities or privileges with you.
Esther Macalady is a former teacher, who lives in Golden, and participates in the Grandparents Teach Too writing group.