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Summer Success at Home: 5 Ways Families Can Support Their Child's Learning Journey

May 22, 2023

by: Ramon Torres

6 mins

 

If students neglect their reading over the summer, they can experience a significant loss of skills. Students can lose an average of two months of reading skills during summer break. The same study says that low-income students risk losing an average of three months of reading loss. Cumulative reading losses can have a lasting impact and can set students up for reading challenges in the fall—and in later grades. 
 
However, by engaging in learning activities that encourage literacy skill building, students can avoid summer slide, and even make gains. Here are five ways families and educators can ignite learning this summer and make letter learning, reading, and writing joyful for your children and students.  

1) Read with your child.   

Even if your child already knows how to read, by reading to her, you can share an experience and model language development. From Pre-K on, shared read alouds can improve children’s listening, comprehension, and conversational skills. According to reading expert and educator Pam Koutras, a recent Literacy Matters guest, you can use “pause-and-ponder activities” during read-alouds to give your child time to marinate on the story. She suggests asking open-ended questions such as, “Why do you think the author used this word?” or “What words helped you picture this scene?” to help students explore their vocabulary. You can also explore these helpful tips for reading aloud to children to enhance story time.  
 
Educators can encourage families to continue reading with their children by sending home a list of books appropriate for their grade level or sharing our Summer Backpack, filled with free downloads and activities to get students to read and write. 

2) Keep fine motor skills strong. 

It’s important for children to stay active this summer through play. You can give little hands their own “workout” by encouraging activities that build fine motor skills. Drawing, cutting, coloring, and using scissors all help them build hand skills that are critical for successful handwriting. If you believe that your child needs extra activities to strengthen his/her hands or fine motor skills, here are a few suggestions of activities to do with your child. 

  • Put on finger plays together. Find books with finger plays at your library.  
  • Cut pictures from newspapers or magazines to create a mural. Take a large black marker and draw a line around the picture to give your child a guideline.  
  • Make necklaces or bracelets with beads. Encourage building with Legos, Tinker Toys, Lincoln Logs, etc.  
  • Start a water battle! Squirt a water bottle outdoors on the sidewalk or cool off together.  
  • Get messy! Finger paint with Jell-O or cocoa on a paper plate.  
  • Use small marshmallows and toothpicks to form letters.  

You can also pick up one of our Student Editions to help your child refine his or her printing skills. If your child wants to learn or needs help practicing her cursive skills, our Cursive Kickoff, Cursive Handwriting, or Cursive Success books can help guide them this summer. 

3) Visit your local library.

Reading doesn’t need to be a chore when you can make it an adventure! Visit the library and encourage your children to pick out books that interest them. See if your library offers a summer reading program that provides book suggestions and incentives. Educators can consider working with their local libraries to team up and curate reading lists and offer small incentives students can earn throughout the summer.  

Students who read at least 30 minutes a day reading develop their vocabularies and continue to build important reading skills.

Our Reading & Writing packs can further help you structure your student’s summer reading around a carefully selected children’s book. Each pack includes a Building Writers workbook and a writing journal to reinforce what students learn in their reading. 

4) Encourage writing and drawing.

Rather than approaching writing like an assignment, you can encourage your child to write about his experiences and observations. Would she enjoy drawing the plants she observes on a nature hike? Or would he prefer to write about a day at the beach? 
 
You can help your children brush up on handwriting while they refine their writing skills, too. All it takes is 30 to 45 minutes per week to help students improve letter and sentence formation. Our Building Writers program supports handwriting and includes prompts that help them better communicate their evidence-based thoughts, ideas, and opinions.  

Educators might consider sending home writing prompts with their students related to popular interests or summer activities. They might also encourage summer journaling and drawing. Giving children goals and incentives will keep them motivated to practice throughout the summer—and may help them develop a newfound love for writing. 

5) Play educational games.

From cards to board games to puzzles, there are a variety of games you can play with your child that sneak in reading, math, and knowledge building. For example, Scrabble® helps kids improve their spelling, vocabulary, and critical thinking skills. The game even builds math skills, as it challenges them to build words that will yield the greatest number of points! 

 

Learning Without Tears® programs offer digital experiences that connect to print texts. For example, our A−Z for Mat Man® and Me program includes a student app that allows beginning readers to read digital editions of the letter books independently, or have words read aloud. They can also build skills with fun activities such as Match It, Trash It.   

Having trouble knowing exactly where to start?  

It can seem daunting trying to slot in learning activities during the summer months. In addition to these tips, we are excited to offer additional free resources in our Summer Backpack, filled with reading, writing and drawing activities to support your children and students over the summer. Remember not to sweat it—the key is to make learning fun and engaging over the summer. By helping them retain and grow their literacy skills, build independence, and develop a love for learning, you can help them build confidence for back-to-school success. 
 

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