Summer literacy building activities for children

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JOCELYN LAUREL

Now that summer is upon us, our kids will enjoy a new kind of freedom – from classrooms, desks and worksheets and tests.

Since children are no longer in the classroom, effort is exerted by parents to ensure that their children are kept occupied and productive by providing them with fun summer activities, to keep education going through the summer.

One activity that parents should add in their child’s “summer bucket list” is a literacy program which offers an engaging way to ensure that your child has an enjoyable summer.

According to a Johns Hopkins study, students can lose up to two months of reading and math knowledge, and in the following school year, teachers can spend four to six weeks re-teaching these concepts. Students also tend to score much lower on standardized tests at the end of the summer than on tests taken at the beginning of the summer. The study expresses one clear message: that once kids are out of the classroom, they are less frequently challenged intellectually, and much of what they absorbed during the school year begins to slip away.


One sure way to guarantee that your child continuously acquires knowledge can be found in literacy building activities. Literacy, is a fundamental tool for all children if they are to grow into successful adults.

“Literacy is a gateway skill and the foundation to educational success,” explains literacy expert Doug Fisher. However, during the summer months, literature and reading fluency declines, causing obstacles in a child’s literacy building progress. To combat this, children need to be actively involved in maintaining and even building their literacy skills.

Since most parents aren’t trained literacy experts and most kids aren’t overly interested in sitting through structured summer classes, it is important that parents do their best to help children practice reading and literacy strategies throughout the summer.

You can take advantage of interactive apps available for the iPad or even for your mobile phones. You may want to check out this Summer Literacy Pinterest Board for ideas that incorporate fun into reading fluency activities: https://www.pinterest.com/mcgrawhillk12/summer-literacy/.

Check out, for example the board “8 Super Summer Sight Word Activities” in this site, which offers eight fun activities like Beach Balls, Hopscotch, Jumping Words, Sand Writing, Water Painting, Flashlight Fun, Magnifying Words, Fly Swatting Sight Words, all geared towards practicing reading sight words in an active and enjoyable way.

Reading to your child for just 20 minutes a day is all it takes to avoid a summer reading slump. Reading, like other skills, is best developed when it becomes repetitive. Forming the habit of reading at a young age is linked to higher performance and achievement throughout life. Consider this:

Student “A” reads 20 minutes each day = 3600 minutes in a school year = 1,800,000 words (90th percentile).

Student “B” reads five minutes each day = 900 minutes in a school year = 282,000 words (50th percentile).

Student “C” reads one minute each day = 180 minutes in a school year = 8,000 words (10th percentile).

This study indicates that by the end of sixth grade, Student “A” will have read the equivalent of 60 whole school days, and student “B” will have read on the equivalent of 12 school days. Which student would you expect to have a better vocabulary? Which student would you expect to be more successful in school … and in life? (Nagy & Herman, 1987)

And did you know what 20 minutes gets your child? letsread20.org, an organization that promotes literacy by encouraging everyone (children and adults alike) to read 20 minutes each day and everyday did the math and came up with these astounding discoveries: An average adult reader reads 200 words per minute.

For argument’s sake, let’s say that children who read more slowly than adults can also read 200 wpm on a page with bigger type and shorter words.

A book has about 200-250 words per page, depending on the font and size of the book. That averages out to about a page per minute.

So, if you read 20 minutes a day for the rest of the summer—about six weeks—that’s 840 minutes and 840 pages. Twenty minutes per day doesn’t sound like much but 840 pages does.

Here is what 840 pages gets you: six 140-page books, three 280-page books, two 420-page books, or one really seriously long book!

Research shows that children who read during the summer do better upon returning to school because they’ve kept their minds active.

So, if your child still hasn’t picked up a book, head for the bookstore and start your child on a literary journey this summer. Whether they are kids who may already have well established reading skills or beginning or struggling readers, by consistently reading and exposing them to the written word will maintain and sharpen their literary skills.

By the way, just for the record, after going through this one seriously long article, you have just read 842 words! Good job!

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