Teachers and researchers have long known that, throughout summer vacation, students forget information they learned during the school year.
Studies by Rand Education found elementary students' performance falls by about a month during the summer, but the decline is much worse for low-income students.
“Most disturbing, it appears that summer learning loss is cumulative and over time, these periods of differential learning rates between low-income and higher-income students contribute substantially to the achievement gap,” Rand reports. “These researchers concluded that efforts to close the achievement gap during the school year alone may be unsuccessful.”
Fortunately, this summer learning loss can be mitigated by reading just 20 minutes a day. Here are some ways to help children read over the break.
Try a summer program
To stimulate interest in reading, Phoenix Public Library and other libraries throughout Maricopa County are hosting Build a Better World, the 2017 countywide online summer reading program for all ages.
The program encourages children to read throughout the summer, earn prizes, play games and come to a variety of free activities hosted at Phoenix Public Library and libraries throughout the rest of Maricopa County. While the free program is meant to help children, adults are encouraged to participate because, as primary role models, they are influential in helping children develop a love for reading.
Through the program, when they read at least 1,000 words, children are entered into drawings for prizes, including a one-year family membership to the Phoenix Zoo.
Find reading opportunities other than books
Helping children read each day doesn’t always mean sitting down with a book, explains children’s book company Scholastic. The organization suggests reading the newspaper (even if it is just the comics), magazines, outdoor advertising and even television schedules. Parents can identify reading opportunities available to their family.
Teachers use retelling as a method to gauge reading comprehension. During summer, parents can encourage and monitor their children’s reading by asking them to describe what they read. It also shows children that their parents are interested in what they are doing.
"If they cannot recount the story to you, they probably did not understand what they read," according to Jennifer Campbell in an article for redapplereading.com. "By having your child tell you the setting, main characters, and plot of the story, you can help ensure that they have adequately comprehended their reading assignment."
Read out loud
Reading out loud benefits all children and teens, especially those who struggle. Scholastic notes a primary benefit is parents can read books children can't, so they build listening comprehension skills with books on their grade level and above. This helps them do better when they read on their own. Research shows that regularly reading out loud helps develop reading skills even in young children who can't yet read on their own.
Strong reading skills set a foundation for successful performance in school. Staying educationally engaged through summer reading programs like Build a Better World can offset summer learning loss and lead to higher graduation rates. As children become adults, reading continues to stimulate the mind, reduce stress and improve memory and imagination.