Why Students Decline Over Summer Break
According to the Brookings Institution—a nonprofit organization that conducts research about problems facing US society—during the summer, students' achievement scores decline by about one month’s worth of school year learning. Children who have a better chance of avoiding the summer setback are those with access to resources such as libraries, activities with educated family members, or quality summer programs.
When teachers are asked about which skills tend to decline over summer vacation, literacy is at the top of the list. Literacy is not learned without education. Unlike speaking, which is primarily learned from experiences with other humans—by listening to the various sound and word combinations—reading and writing must be studied to master.
While the notion of studying over summer break is a lot less desirable than heading to the beach for a picnic lunch, there are ways you can integrate literacy-rich activities into your summer schedule without hitting the books every day.
How to Implement Literacy Practice Into Your Summer Routine
Implementing literacy practice can be as easy as adding a few literacy-rich activities into your summer schedule. There’s no reason that literacy practice has to feel like hardcore homework. Read a few of these recommended ideas (you don’t even have to get up from your lawn chair).
- Make a habit - One of the easiest examples of this is having a designated reading time such as after lunch or before bed. Children who benefit from early exposure to literature (such as a parent reading books with them before bedtime) continue to benefit from this practice for the rest of their lives.
- Be an example - Children learn what they see and what better way for them to learn to love literacy than by seeing their parents reading, or even seeing their parents get excited about reading! It also doesn’t hurt to leave a few books lying around as a gentle suggestion.
- Show interest and help them go deeper - If you’re not already an avid reader yourself, talk to your kids about what they’re reading. Ask questions about the content such as: What is happening in the story? Tell me about the characters. What do you hope happens? How would you change the story, if you could? Open dialogue about reading helps strengthen comprehension, reasoning, and interest.
- Spend a hot afternoon at the library - Summer days off from school can be long and hot. Visiting the public library is a great way to get everyone out of the house, to benefit from some air conditioning, and to exercise brains by reading! It’s free, and when children explore books or other materials at the library, they’re empowered by their own imaginations.
While you’re at the library, don’t forget to sign up for their annual summer reading program. Many public libraries offer programs with incentives for children to read.
- Speaking of incentive programs... Scholastic® hosts a free online reading challenge called Read-a-Palooza. Kids can log on during the 18-week challenge and enter their number of minutes read to earn digital rewards. They can view a map which tracks minutes of participating schools, libraries, or community partner programs.
- Host a children’s book club - All you need is a book and a date! A book club for children might be a playdate where each child brings a book they’ve been reading and presents it to the other children. It may not be practical to read the same book, but maybe you could suggest a theme. For example, Kids Can Press hosts a series called Citizen Kids and it includes books for children ages 8-10 that focus on making kids better global citizens. Topics include water conservation, biodiversity, food security, and more. Literacy and global citizenship? Sounds like a good summer indeed.
- Write - Exploring how to write can help catapult reading skills. During summer break, kids can benefit from creative writing projects, or simply summarizing text that they’ve practiced reading. Even writing text in the form of emails or text messages can help strengthen literacy skills. Here’s a list of 5 Reasons Why Writing Helps Early Reading.
- Make Lemonade (and read about it too) - Making lemonade stands during summer break isn’t just one of America’s favorite childhood pastimes, it’s also a great opportunity for literacy learning. From searching for, and following a recipe, to creating a business plan and menu, there’s plenty of opportunity to reinforce all levels of reading and writing skills learned during the school year. Cheers!
- Brain-Boosting Technology To Maximize Benefits of Summer Time Reading - Support for a child is paramount to their literacy practice over the summer break. Having a parent or other supportive adult can turn ordinary summer activities into literacy-packed learning sessions. But did you know there’s an easy way to get even more out of that time? Using specialized headphones during literacy activities like the ones listed above is a way to take literacy learning to the next level.
Forbrain Bone Conduction Headphones offer an organic and effective strategy to help the brain grow. Using a combination of audio-feedback, bone conduction, and a unique dynamic sound filter, the stimulus going in becomes a brain-boosting experience that improves memory, attention, and other cognitive skills needed to become a proficient reader. Learn more about Forbrain here.
Preventing summer setback and maintaining good reading skills doesn’t mean you have to start a summer school program in your backyard—it is a vacation, after all. It can be as simple as shifting your summer activities so that they include more literacy-based challenges. Along with the use of a brain-boosting device like Forbrain, you’ve got a winning combination that will empower students and impress teachers come fall.