In the immortal words of Alice Cooper, “School’s out for summer!” From now until Labor Day, vacation beckons kids to cut loose from routine, be lazy and have fun.
Is reading on your child’s summer to-do list? It should be, as a growing body of research shows summer reading at every grade level is critical to staying on track academically — especially for disadvantaged kids.
A report from the New York State Library rounds up what studies have found about the dreaded “summer slide.” A few relevant facts:
• By not being in school, the average student will lose up to one month of instruction over the summer. The loss can be up to three months for poor kids with limited access to books. Summer learning loss was greatest in math computation, reading and spelling.
• The achievement gap between higher-income and lower-income students can be traced mainly to differences in the amount of summer learning kids accomplished over their elementary school years, a study of Baltimore schoolchildren found. That achievement gap persisted through high school and college.
Not surprisingly, perhaps, students who read more also read better, write better, spell better and have better vocabularies.
The cure for the summer slide is as near as your local public library, where summer reading programs are gearing up. More than 1.6 million children attended a summer reading program at a New York library last year. In Onondaga County, 5,715 children and teens participated, collectively reading more than 90,000 books.
More than two dozen libraries in Onondaga County are offering summer reading programs. You can sign up in person or, for some libraries, you can sign up online at www.summerreadingnys.org. The website also is rich with resources for parents and educators, including suggested reading lists by age group, word games and puzzles, arts and crafts and other fun stuff for kids and teens.
In addition to signing up your children for a summer reading program at the library, parents can do things every day to encourage reading. Some tips from the New York State Library: • Get your child a library card.
• Read with your child every day. Take advantage of “waiting” time at the doctor’s office or in line at the grocery store.
• Take books with you to the beach, lake or pool.
• Read on your own and talk to your kids about what you’re reading.
• Keep a list on the refrigerator of the books everyone has read during the summer.
Imagine the academic gains kids can make if they report for the first day of school with the same store of knowledge they had on their last day of school.