I recently listened to a great piece on NPR’s Weekend Edition, which featured New York Times journalist KJ Dell’Antonia talking about the obstacles parents face with keeping children occupied, (and educated) during the summer months. One of the things discussed was “Summer Slide,” the phenomenon in which students lose some of the skills they gained during the school year in literacy and mathematics. Dell’Antonia states “When it comes to reading, what research has shown is that kids typically lose two to three months over the summer and the big distinction when it comes to reading is that they just don’t get it back. And researchers aren’t super clear on why that is. But they are pretty clear on the fact that a learning-based program — just getting out there and doing something different and hearing new words … and doing some reading in that context — that keeps the skills up.”
That is pretty sobering information. As a teacher, I’m always thinking about the way that children discover, retain, and come to love reading and writing. As a parent, I’m invested in finding ways to keep my kids engaged with the process of using the skills they built during the school year, even the ones that aren’t their first favorite. Fortunately, there are several fun ways to help retain reading and writing skills through the summer months and prep kids for the new school year. I’ve listed a few ideas below:
- Get involved with The Eugene Public Library or Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. Both offer access to summer reading programs and free books to kids of all ages.
- Designate family reading nights, on summer nights and beyond! Pick a book that can be read aloud to the whole family, and enjoy time together while increasing literacy and comprehension.
There are also two great Creative Writing Summer Camps going on in August right here in Eugene.
- For middle and high school students, Wordcrafters is offering two different camps for fiction and slam poetry. Find out more about these camps at: http://wordcraftersineugene.org/young-writers/summer-camp/
- For elementary school students, The Salmon House Writers Workshop is offering a Storytelling and Creative Writing Camp on August 1-3rd. The Salmon House also offers individual tutoring and writing skill building for elementary through high school students. Some scholarships are available for qualifying families for summer camp. To find out more about this program, visit: check out our Programs tab or call (541) 326-6112.
I hope you’ll share this information with other parents you know who are looking for fun educational resources for their kids this summer, and in preparation for the coming school year.
Happy summer reading and writing!