What can help your child improve their reading skills? Reading over the summer break. Studies have shown that the achievement gap in reading forms and widens during the summer vacation rather than the school year (Kim 3). In fact, students could lose approximately three months of reading development each summer and two years of reading loss by the time they reach sixth grade (Blanton 2). This is called summer reading regression and there is an effective solution to this problem. Since parents and families are with their children over summer these results imply that the biggest contributor to a child maintaining the learning gains they have achieved during the school year is their family approach to reading.

Further research show two major aspects to the child maintaining their reading level over summer:
1. Access to resources – books
2. Positive reading experiences for the child – actively using reading skills learned during the year and the opportunity to read to and discuss books with family members (Kim 4)

Here at IICS, we can certainly assist with the first aspect through our summer borrowing program. Children returning to school in the fall are encouraged to borrow 12 items for the summer. Students from grade 4 and over have unlimited borrowing. The students returned a signed form and then can select their books in the final week of the school year. Many class teachers bring their students and assist with book selection, recommending books knowing their students’ tastes and reading skills. We also give access to all our electronic books over the summer – the same permission slip has the login information required for Tumblebooks and TeenBookCloud.

The second aspect is up to the parents and the children together. As students the children learn the five optimum strategies for reading comprehension:
1. Re-reading text
2. Asking questions while reading
3. Making predictions
4. Summarizing
5. Making connections with other texts and personal experiences (Kim 7)

Some possible discussion prompts parents could try for each strategy include:
1. Re-reading the text – ask your child to read aloud the most exciting or interesting part they have read that day. Don’t be surprised if once your child has read and enjoyed a book that they will want to re-read it. Encourage them to this as it is a great strategy for deeper comprehension. Ask the child what did they appreciate the second or third time they read the text. Ask about any new vocabulary and ask how did the child come to understand what the word meant?
2. Asking question while reading – ask your child what questions they have about the plot or characters that have not yet been answered OR what questions did they have that were answered that day?
3. Making predictions – ask your child what they think will happen next OR how will this chapter end OR what will a particular character do about a situation?
4. Summarizing – ask your child to explain the book to you OR to explain what the scariest/funniest/most surprising part was?
5. Making connections with other texts and personal experiences – this offer perhaps the richest source of conversation with your child about what they are reading – what other books have you read that are like this? Have you seen a movie or TV program like this? Does that make you think about the time you went to an event?

Research also shows that while reading books alone is beneficial the more involved the parent is in a positive way the greater the gain for the child. Three keys to reducing summer regression in reading are the reader, routine, and relationship (Blanton 16). Reading daily is part of the routine and hopefully with the strategies and questions mentioned above those positive relationships already in your family can be extended to developing a family reading culture. What happens in the home with the summer reading resources has a huge impact on reversing summer reading regression (Compton-Lilly 2). Literary interactions can involve many family members and thus over summer your family can develop a powerful culture of reading (Compton – Lilly 3).

We, families and teachers, want to see our students flourish in their learning and one great way to support this is through summer reading.

Works Cited

Blanton, Morgan V. “Keys to Reducing Summer Regression: The Reader, Routine, and Relationship.” Journal of Organizational and Educational Leadership, vol. 1, no. 1, Jan. 2015. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ1131513&site=ehost-live. Accessed 10 June, 2019.

Compton-Lilly, Catherine, et al. “A Closer Look at a Summer Reading Program: Listening to Students and Parents.” Reading Teacher, vol. 70, no. 1, Jan. 2016, pp. 59–67. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ1105417&site=ehost-live. Accessed 10 June, 2019.

Kim, James S., and George Washington University Center for Equity and Excellence in Education. “Summer Reading Summer Not: How Project READS Can Advance Equity.” George Washington University Center for Equity and Excellence in Education, George Washington University Center for Equity and Excellence in Education, 1 June 2010. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=ED539756&site=ehost-live. Accessed 10 June, 2019.