In our last post on finding alternatives for the summer slide (the loss of academic skills and practice during summer months), we focused on math skills. Practicing reading skills is also crucial to maintaining a learning regiment during the summer -- that much more so for low-income kids.
"On average, middle-income students experience slight gains in reading performance over the summer months," according to Reading is Fundamental. "Low-income students experience an average summer learning loss in reading achievement of more than 2 months." This achievement loss is cumulative, accounting for the major gaps in reading levels between income levels once students reach middle and high school -- an up to 2 year gap in some cases.
An article in The Washington Post suggested several ways educators can do help, including offering students summer reading lists and distributing books.
It's that last piece that's crucial. Despite the emphasis on MindShift around new technologies that will help us learn, let's forget the buzz about e-books and interactive book apps for a minute just to stress the importance of reading in all forms, including from good, old fashioned print. Many schools, libraries, community centers, publishers and bookstores sponsor reading programs and challenges. For example:
- The Scholastic Summer Challenge encourages kids to track their minutes, read books, and compete for prizes. Last summer, participants read a total of 52,710,368 minutes, and they're hoping to break the world record this summer
- Barnes & Noble is offering a free book for every 8 that a kid reads.
Educators and parents: what are you doing to help keep kids reading over the summer months?