Thoughtful Parenting: Summer adventures with reading

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We know it’s important to learn to read, but did you know it is critical for kids to read during the summer? We want kids to be able to start school in the fall and pick up where they left off in June rather than having to catch up. The National Summer Reading Association estimates that teachers could spend as long as one month at the start of a school year reteaching skills that were lost during the summer for students who do not read during the summer break. For kids who have challenges with reading or who don’t particularly enjoy it, summertime reading is essential.

But how do you encourage reading when there are more exciting things to explore in the summer? Consider these tips:

■ Read books that are interesting to your child. This is your child’s time to pick what he or she likes. Interested in bugs? Read bug books. How about baseball or fascinating historical figures? You get the idea. There are so many writing styles, characters and illustrations available that something is sure to catch your child’s eye.

■ Find reading materials other than books. Remember the mail-order publications Highlights and Ranger Rick? Ask your librarian about magazines, comic books or other formats that are available. These options give your kids variety while exposing them to words, sentences and vocabulary in print.

■ Build a reading time into the day. Perhaps it’s in the evening before bed or in the car driving to swim practice. If you set a family guideline that everyone reads each day, it will have a better chance of happening. You might have to say, “When you’ve finished reading whatever it is you choose for 20 minutes, you can have time on the computer.” Maintaining and improving reading skills is that important.

■ Read a book together. You can read a book while your child follows along or simply listens. Kids still are exposed to vocabulary, and their imagination gets to run wild while listening. Try audio books sometime: They are portable and entertaining.

■ Check out what is happening in our community that pairs reading with fun. Routt County public libraries offer summer reading programs, and BookTrails’ Reading on Ranches camp is a fun-packed program for children that infuses reading and writing with outdoor education. These programs combine reading and adventure.

For more information, visit www.pbs.org/parents/education/reading-language/reading-tips/summer-reading-tips.

Remember, it’s never too early to start reading to your child. Babies and toddlers love books, too. They hear the language, see the vibrant colors and feel the pages.

Wishing you enjoyable adventures this summer through reading.

Barbara Gueldner, Ph.D., is licensed psychologist in private practice in Steamboat Springs. She is a member of First Impressions, Routt County’s Early Childhood Council. Find her at www.successfulkidstoday.com.

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