In an article titled, "Summer Reading Loss: If they don't use it, they may lose it," published last week on HowtoLearn.com, Julie McKown shares tips for parents on how to encourage reading and writing throughout the summer. Check out the article for some creative ideas, geared for children in the younger elementary grades.
Reading the article made me start thinking about what I really want my own students (both the ones I had last year and the ones I'll have this coming school year) to do when I write on their end-of-the-year report cards to "continue reading and writing in the summer." I would love for my students to be reading for at least 30 minutes a day. When I first began teaching 4th grade, I had the fortune of teaching with Mrs. Watanabe, a veteran teacher who I consider a great friend and mentor. She was adamant that reading be a daily activity, often telling the students that they need to read every day like they eat every day. Reading is nourishment for our minds. Like Mrs. Watanabe, I also enforce the importance of students talking about their reading and how they're making meaning of the reading. When school's in session, I have my students do a weekly reading response of their independent reading that their parents sign. I ask my parents to take this opportunity to discuss how the reading is going and ask their children to summarize the reading, make predictions and connections, and share their feelings. I hope that they would continue this through the summer, perhaps also taking advantage of the fantastic summer reading programs that many of our community libraries and bookstores are offering.
Letter writing and keeping a journal are some ideas for summer writing, along with joining our Kids Writing Club, of course! Even something as simple as writing a list of things that inspire them as writers throughout the summer would be great! I'm always thrilled when students come back to school bursting with new writing ideas, or when I hear about a summer writing project that they did with their families. I remember one student a few years back saying that he had gone on a "virtual trip" this summer. His mom had spun a globe one day, and with his eyes closed, his finger "picked" a place for them to go. For weeks, he researched the country and some of the attractions and activities they could do there, and he created brochures and advertisements, and then postcards to friends about his virtual experiences. They celebrated along the way with field trips to sites on our island so that he could compare and contrast the environments, and eating snacks that highlighted foods from the country he chose. How great!
Here are a few photos of the fun my one year old son Daniel, who already LOVES to read (okay, he doesn't actually read yet! But looking through books and being read to are his favorite activities) is having this summer!
Library reading time with Famous Wally Amos
Daniel reading one of his favorite books, "Song of Night," by Katie Nakamura (who happens to be my friend and colleague at Noelani)
Parents, what are some of the things you've done to extend learning at home through the summer? I'm going to need your ideas for Daniel in a few years!