The end of the 2019-2020 school year is almost here, and I think it’s probably safe to say that most students and parents are looking forward to a break. But as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to have a massive impact around the world, your family may be going into the summer vacation with a lot of questions. What will school look like in the fall? Will my child be attending classes, or doing school online? Should I be preparing to homeschool my kids next year?
At this point, it doesn’t seem like anyone actually knows what the fall semester is going to look like, or what impact the virus will have on students’ education long-term. In an article titled 9 Ways Schools Will Look Different When (And If) They Reopen, published by NPR back in April, the Superintendent of Public Instruction in Virginia (James Lane) suggested that, “This situation is going to be like what is often called the summer slide, but on steroids.”
If you’re not familiar with the term “summer slide,” it’s a term frequently used by educators when describing a loss of skills from the previous school year, which takes place during the summer months (while children have an extended break from school). The summer slide’s effects are seen in the areas of both reading and math, and have a cumulative effect over time. If you’re interested in learning more about the summer slide, Scholastic published an article about it last year called How to Prevent Your Kids from Losing What They Learned in School During Summer Vacation. It’s a great article, which provides some solid information about skill loss and who is at risk. While not all of their suggestions are currently possible (such as taking field trips), the Scholastic article also includes several ideas for how to help your kids maintain the skills they’ve learned over the summer.
I’ve been spending a lot of time over the past couple of months thinking about ways to help parents support their children academically during this time, and the best advice I can give is to make sure that your kids spend time reading every day (ideally for at least 20 minutes).
For children who love to read, 20 minutes a day may be a fraction of the amount of time that they want to spend reading. If that’s the case, that’s awesome! I definitely recommend allowing your kids to continue reading for longer periods of time. One of my favorite parts of summer vacation was having the freedom to just sit and read for hours.
If your child isn’t a fan of reading, it may take a little while to get into a reading routine, but don’t give up. The benefits of reading are well worth the effort. If you have a child who just doesn’t want to read, I published an article earlier this year that you might be interested in taking a look at, which is called How Do I Get My Child To Read?
Not only will reading at least 20 minutes a day help your child maintain the reading skills they learned throughout the course of the school year, but it can also help them develop new interests and engage in inquiry-based learning. If you have a child at home who can tell you everything you ever (or, possibly, never) wanted to know about dinosaurs or sharks, you’ve already experienced how effective this can be.
Whether you’re a child, teenager, or adult, reading is a great activity for anyone who is going to be stuck at home during the summer! Books allow us to visit new locations, both real and imagined, and have experiences that we don’t always get to have in our real lives. They engage our imaginations, teach us important lessons, and allow us to escape the real world for a while.
If you are concerned about your child’s reading ability, this summer is an excellent time to work on some reading skills. Your child’s current teacher has probably already conferenced with you about any difficulties that your child might be having in this area, but before the end of the current school year, I would recommend sending them an email to see if they have any additional suggestions for ways to support your reader over the summer.
While summer reading has always been an important part of preventing the summer slide, with the interruption of the school year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I believe it is more important than ever. Throughout the week, I will be publishing a series of interrelated articles here on The Unapologetic Bookworm about summer reading and summer reading programs that I hope will be helpful to you and your families.
The following schedule of posts may be subject to change:
- Monday (today): Part One, The Importance of Summer Reading
- Tuesday: Part Two, Summer Reading Motivation
- Wednesday: Part Three, Summer Reading Resources
- Thursday: Part Four, Creating Your Own Summer Reading Program
- Friday: Part Five, Reading Incentives
- Saturday: POPSUGAR Reading Challenge 2020 Update
- Sunday: Parts Six and Seven, Great Reads for Young/Middle Grade Readers and Young Adults
Even if you’re not a parent of a school-aged child, I hope you will still visit The Unapologetic Bookworm this week for summer reading ideas and recommendations.