Parent Magazine St. Johns May 2019 - Page 12

DOES IT REALLY MAKE A DIFFERENCE IF THEY READ THIS SUMMER? S Let Me Count the Ways By Jan Pierce, M.Ed. ummertime has come and the kids need a break. They need to run and play and swim. They need to forget about homework. You’re right, they do. But what they don’t need is several months without any reading practice. Teachers know that kids who don’t read over the entire summer take giant steps backward in their abilities. They forget sight words and sounds. They can’t remember what to do when they get stuck and, even worse, they fail to hang on to the fluency they gained over the past school year. Reading is so key to all of learning that it’s the single most important skill to practice regularly. And it doesn’t have to be only independent reading, it can also be family read alouds, listening to good books, writing and reading their own stories and attending library story hours. There are not enough “shoulds” to convey how important it is for your child to practice reading over the summer holidays. And here’s why: Emergent Readers Emergent readers are kindergarten through second or third grade readers who are still learning the basics of all those squiggles and shapes. They sound words carefully and often get stuck. They are ready for simple sentences, but they may forget the sound of the letter y or w. They use their finger to follow along and need reminders to re-read or try again when they make a mistake. They’ve got a lot of reading skills in place, but they’re not there yet. Their skills are fragile. These little readers will forget much of what they’ve learned if they don’t practice during the summer break. They’ll probably go back to school in the fall and need to begin from scratch. The difficult truth about emergent readers is they can easily lose confidence. Don’t let that happen. Ten to fifteen minutes of daily oral reading practice plus some fun story times together will do the trick. Not only will they keep their hard-won skills in place, they’ll continue to grow and be ready for further challenges next fall. Average Readers These kiddos have made good progress throughout the school year, but they are not yet independent readers. Their fluency is up and down. They may need reminders to ask themselves questions as they read to maintain the meaning of the words. They’ll tend to focus word by word rather than read smoothly through sentences. 12 | S T. J O H N S parent M A G A Z I N E