Summer break is finally here! Although our kids deserve a vacation from the daily homework load – we don’t want to completely let their reading skills slip during this summer vacation. Here is a very family-friendly list of activities you can try at home this summer with your kids to keep the reading skills sharp and active in those kiddies:
- Cook with your kids. Cooking is a great way for the family to spend fun and educational time together. Reading food labels and recipes can help your children improve their reading skills and learn the meanings of unfamiliar words. You can also work up an appetite by reading a story about food. Then make and eat the food you read about.
- Listen to audio books in the car while traveling. Spending time listening to books strengthens listening, concentration and imagination skills in children. It also gives them an opportunity to improve vocabulary and language skills. Take your child’s iPod along on car trips or while you are running errands during the summer break.
- Take your child grocery shopping. Let your child carry the shopping list as you shop. They can read off the items you need. Label reading is also a great reading task for a child. You can have them look up the ingredients on the labels or ask them to research which breakfast cereal has the least amount of sugar in it.
- Play board games. Here is your opportunity to expand your child’s mind while also having fun and spending time together. Games like Scrabble, Boggle and other word games are great for challenging the minds of kids. Some games require reading for clues or reading directions.
- Read about your vacation destination before you go. Have your child read about your travel spots ahead of time and help plan the trip for you. If you go camping, explore the wildlife and scenery on-line.
- Pick your favorite author. Try to read all the books by a favorite author and list them on a chart. Then write a letter to the author. Most authors have their own websites with contact information, book titles, games and more.
- Visit a museum or zoo. There will be lots and lots of signs and descriptions to read which will encourage non-fiction reading vocabulary.
- Go to the library. Access all those wonderful library resources, including reading incentive programs and opportunities for volunteer work for older children.
- Plant a vegetable garden. Read books together about gardening. Read directions to plant seeds. Children can research online for growing tips and learning how to take care of their vegetables.
- Campfire Stories. Set up a tent in the backyard and have your children take turns reading campfire stories. Pick out some fun scary mysteries and don’t forget the s’mores.
- Don’t watch TV – read it! If it is available, have your child watch close captioned TV with the sound off. Not only builds reading skills but also builds empathy for those who are hearing impaired.
- Keep a summer scrapbook. Tape in souvenirs of your family’s summer activities such as pictures, ticket stubs, photos, etc. The kids can write captions and read them aloud as you look at the book together.
Learn more about the New PRIDE Reading Program
Karina Richland, M.A. is the Founder and Director of PRIDE Learning Centers, located in Los Angeles and Orange County. Ms. Richland is a certified reading and learning disability specialist. Ms. Richland speaks frequently to parents, teachers, and professionals on learning differences, and writes for several journals and publications. You can visit the Pride Learning Center website at: www.pridelearningcenter.com
Getting your child interested in reading is one of the most important things you can do as a parent. I understand it isn’t always easy. Just try to think of your time and energy as an investment in your child’s reading future. Here are some practical tips for getting your child interested in reading…
While there aren’t movie equivalents for every book, there is a large selection of children’s literature out there. If you can find them, watch and discuss them together. Some suggestions are: A Series of Unfortunate Events: Lemony Snicket, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, To Kill a Mockingbird, Charlotte’s Web, Hoot, etc.
- Find books with cartoons or humor — which only a child would find amusing
Not everything needs to be a learning lesson. Letting children read books such as Big Nate or Diary of a Wimpy Kid will keep them engaged and entertained. Although adults might find the language and humor distasteful, children find it very funny and are therefore more motivated to read.
- Zero in on your child’s passions and choose books and magazines focused on areas of interest
Find books on specific topics to keep your child’s interest, such as science, baseball, American Girl dolls, etc. Children who already have the background knowledge, language and vocabulary before beginning a book will have an easier time getting through the reading. Order a magazine subscription to Sports Illustrated for Kids or Nickelodeon. Children love receiving mail and reading ‘their’ magazines.
- Get your child an email account and, together, check it regularly
Using the computer to read and write is a huge advantage for most students. By letting young children write and send email, they practice reading, writing and spelling. Teach your child how to use spell check before sending off messages. Be sure to monitor your child’s ‘pen pals’ – who is your child writing to and receiving mail from? Let your child pick out a few family members, including grandparents and maybe two or three friends. You will find that by using email regularly, your child becomes very strong in typing (keyboarding) and using the computer.
- Find an author that your child likes and stick with it
If your child loves reading Hank Zipzer by Henry Winkler or Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume, then you have found a writing style which stimulates your child’s interest. Go through the entire series. Don’t worry if the reading is below grade level: your child is reading for pleasure and for practice. Also remember, just because you loved a certain author or series when you were a kid, this doesn’t mean your child will love the same books you did. Browse the bookstore or library and find the newest, most modern series. Usually these books contain language and themes to motivate the most reluctant reader. Kids need to relate to what they are reading, and modern language usage helps.
- Get books with large print
For some children with learning difficulties, getting books with larger type can be helpful. Maybe it’s because the pages are less intimidating with less text, or maybe it is the fact that there are fewer words on each line, but it seems to make the reading a bit easier.
- Let your child talk to you about the book they are reading.
When we adults read books we enjoy, we like to talk about them. After reading a book, we don’t necessarily want to write a summary, book report or make a project of it. We just want to discuss it with someone else. Look interested in what your child is reading (yes, even if it is Captain Underpants) and ask questions and have your child tell you about it. Laugh with your child about the funny parts (even at the bathroom jokes) and help your child feel good about reading.
Learn more about the New PRIDE Reading Program
Karina Richland, M.A. is the Founder of PRIDE Learning Centers, located in Los Angeles and Orange County. Ms. Richland is a certified reading and learning disability specialist. Ms. Richland speaks frequently to parents, teachers, and professionals on learning differences, and writes for several journals and publications. You can visit the PRIDE Learning Center website at: www.pridelearningcenter.com