Today I have a special guest post from Elspeth Rae and Rowena Rae – sisters who have dedicated their careers to children’s literacy and learning. (They are also the authors of the great new Meg and Greg series of books, which have special features to support children with dyslexia and other struggling readers aged 6-9. More details follow their post!)
School’s nearly out! Summer is for kids to relax and have fun, go to camp, get outdoors, and spend time with family and friends. It’s also an excellent time to practice reading, writing, storytelling, and numbers in a less structured environment. What’s more, keeping up with these skills over the summer reduces the “summer slide” that can leave kids starting a new school year behind their achievements of the previous year. How can you encourage your child to do “schoolwork” in the summer? Here are four strategies. Not all kids will delight at each one, but find a couple to help your child get excited about.
- Read anywhere, read anything!
Surround your family with reading materials–books, magazines, pamphlets, maps–all summer long. Find out if your local library offers a summer reading program, or create your own book club. Commit to weekly visits to the library and let your child select books. Kids are more likely to read something of their own choosing. Build a quiet time for reading into every day, and not just for your child, for you too. Your actions speak volumes, so model reading. And don’t forget reading out loud with your child, especially if their reading level isn’t as advanced as materials they can understand. Exposing your child to books with a higher level of content will increase their vocabulary and introduce ideas that they may not get from books at their reading level.
- Keep a summer journal or scrapbook
Get your child a new notebook or binder to record their summer activities. What to write about? Choose one part of each day to document, rather than writing everything that happens, which can quickly become overwhelming. The journal could also include drawings, event tickets, maps from a road trip, photos, and pressed flowers. Some days they might prefer to write a poem, song, or story. How much your child writes will depend on their age and writing ability. A picture with one sentence or labels might be enough for early learners; if they are capable of more, encourage them to keep writing. You could put a time limit on it each day to keep the activity from becoming a chore.
- Become an expert in a subject
Help your child choose a topic, guide them to find materials to learn about it, and finally get them to present their work.
History of your local area
Stories passed down from grandparents
Tourist brochure for visitors to your neighbourhood
An itinerary of activities for a family vacation
A recipe booklet
Design a poster
Make a slideshow
Create a booklet
Do a cooking demonstration like on a TV show
- Do “under the radar” math
Everyday activities make for great math practice. When baking, suggest your child do a triple batch, therefore multiplying ingredients by three. Suggest a lemonade stand that sells drinks for uneven prices. If you’re eating out, ask for your child’s help to figure out the tip. When the ice cream truck comes past, have your child calculate the change. In the garden, count seeds to plant or work out the dimensions of a new fence, planter box, or picnic table. Sewing projects include lots of calculations, as do road trips. How far will you drive each day? How many kilometres does the car do to the litre, and where will you have to stop for gas? For some kids, mental math is too tricky, so use a pad and paper, draw in the sand with a stick, or find pebbles to use as “math manipulatives.”
Most importantly, lead the way into summer learning with enthusiasm and let that vibe rub off on your child. The benefits of maintaining or even exceeding reading, writing, and math skills over the summer will be huge, and your child will be ready to start the new school year with confidence.
Thank you so much for all the great tips, Elspeth and Rowena!
Elspeth Rae and Rowena Rae are the concept creators and writers behind the Meg and Greg series of books. Elspeth is an Orton Gillingham-certified teacher of children with dyslexia, and Rowena is a children’s writer and editor. They both live in British Columbia.
A Duck in a Sock, the first installment in the Meg and Greg series, is designed specifically for young readers with dyslexia, allowing children to practice reading age-appropriate words while engaging with a truly exciting text. It includes a range of specially designed, unique features, including:
A story divided into two parts: one set of text for adults, using wider vocabulary and longer sentences to make the story interesting and engaging; one for children, using tightly controlled words and shorter sentences.
A typeface that mirrors hand-printed letters, enabling children to recognize letter shapes more familiar to them.
Children’s text printed on shaded paper to reduce the contrast between text and paper—something cited as a difficulty for some children with dyslexia.
Book 1: A Duck in a Sock is currently available, and Book 2 will appear later this year. For more information, please visit http://www.tworeadbooks.com.