Tag Archives: Summer

How to Encourage Summer Reading

Want to help your son improve his reading skills over the summer? A good idea, since many children lose ground in reading over the course of the summer and start the new school year with rusty skills which can zap their academic confidence. Here are a few ways to focus on reading this summer:

Public Library Summer Reading Programs: Most public libraries have free summer reading programs for students through middle school, and some have innovative programs for teens as well. Search online for summer reading programs at your local public library.

The Institute of Reading Development: The Institute of Reading Development, a California-based company which helps students of all ages reach their full potential as readers, offers summer reading programs throughout the summer. The fee-based programs start for children as young as 4, and are offered for students in grades 1-12, as well as college students and adults. The summer reading programs are offered through the Institute’s various partners, which include colleges and parks and recreational departments nationwide. For more information go to www.readingprograms.org/summer-reading-programs/.

Barnes and Noble Summer Reading Program for Kids: The Barnes and Noble 2012 summer reading program “Imagination Destination” gives children in grades 1-6 a free book when they read 8 books over the summer. Here’s how it works: Your child downloads and prints a reading journal from the Barnes and Nobles Summer Reading website, found here, and fills out the student information on the first page of the journal. A parent must sign on this page in order for the child to get a free book. After your child reads a book, he records in his reading journal the title, author, and whether he would recommend the book and why (or why not). After he has read and recorded 8 books, bring the completed and signed reading journal into your local Barnes and Noble book store between May 22, 2012 and September 4, 2012. Present it to an employee and they will let him choose a book from their free book list. Be sure to download the "Fun Activities and Teaching Tips" kit from this summer reading website to help make your son’s summer reading fun.

TD Bank Summer Reading Program: If your son reads 10 books this summer, he can earn $10! TD Bank is offering to deposit $10 into a new or existing TD Young Saver account for children 18 and under who read 10 books this summer. They must download and print the Summer Reading Form which can be found on their summer reading website, list the books they’ve read, and take the form to the nearest TD Bank from now until September 29th, 2012 to be eligible for the $10 deposit. Note that your son will have to open a Young Saver account or be prepared to open one in order to receive the $10. If your son does not have a Young Saver Account bring an I.D. for him when you accompany him to the bank. The TD Bank Summer Reading website also offers tips to make summer reading more enjoyable, and
a link to games (some goofy, some helpful), which provide basic financial information for children.

Pottery Barn Kids Summer Reading Challenge: If your son (aged 10 and under) reads all of the books on the Pottery Barn Early Readers list or their Caldecott Medal and Honor Books List between now and 8/24/12, tracks their progress and downloads a certificate of completion, he can visit a Pottery Barn Kids store and receive a free book, and also be eligible to win a backpack full of books. Both book lists and more details are on their summer reading challenge page, found here.

Hope these programs inspire you to encourage your son’s summer reading. Tell us what you are doing this summer to get him reading!


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Filed under Books, Summer Camps and Programs

Summer School for Parents

Several months ago, GCP posted “Summer Planning”, which listed ways that you could help your son have a fun and productive summer. Now here are some suggestions of things you can do right now to help your son have a productive fall.

Summer Reading. How’s that summer reading going? Many schools assign books for each grade to read over the summer. Most have a recommended summer reading list for your son’s grade, even if they do not require that he read specific books. If your son’s school has neither, the internet is filled with summer reading lists, or you can consult your local public library. However your son’s summer reading list is derived, now is the time to check in with him to see how he is doing with it. An interesting and fun way to encourage summer reading (especially for the reluctant readers) is to get copies of the required readings and read the books along with your son. Time consuming, I know, but well worth it. Chatting about what you’ve read so far is a great way to get insight into your son’s reading style, comprehension, and interests. Talking about the reading with him helps him to retain what he has read. Sometimes you get to add some pretty interesting books to your summer reading list, either rereading classics you loved or being introduced to the works of new authors. And if you don’t like the book, you can talk about that with your son as well. But you both have to hang in there and finish it!

Be Mindful of Pre-Fall Deadlines and Get a Jump on the Fall. Do medical forms need to be updated? When do you need to sign up for any school based afterschool programs? Are you able to sign your son up for any art/music/ sports lessons or teams now? The start of school is hectic enough without layering all those crazy deadlines on top of it. Planning any extracurricular activities for your son now, if possible, can save you both from additional September stress. Can you knock out some school supply shopping now? Avoid the lines, and have a much greater selection of items. If you know that your son will need extra help with any of next year’s courses, now is the time to research and set up tutoring. Have a high school upperclassman? Take advantage of the relatively quiet summer months to consider when college visits and SAT prep will take place.

Spend Downtime with your Son. Don’t forget to make time to have lots of fun with your son during the summer. Build in as much time to chill with him as possible. This is a great time to discover and appreciate the interesting person he is becoming (or is on his way to becoming). It is important to be proactive about the fall, but don’t forget to enjoy the summer!

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Summer Planning

Although it’s only the week before Easter, before you know it school will be out for the summer.   When we were young many of us spent our summers hanging out with friends on stoops, in the park, at the beach or community pool, or, only if our parents or teachers insisted, in summer school.  Today there is a dizzying array of summer programs available for enrollment for day, weeks, or months.  These programs can help children improve academic, artistic or sports skills, enable them to travel globally, or give them the opportunity to perform community service locally and abroad.  There are also many traditional sleep away camps that cater to every interest. Faced with so many choices, the impulse to throw up your hands and send your children out to play for two months can be strong.  But now is the time to focus on what your children will be doing this summer, and lock in their plans.

While it may be tempting to let your children wile away the summer, studies show that the learning loss which occurs during summer breaks can have a tremendous impact on their progress when they return to school in the fall.  According to the National Summer Learning Association at Johns Hopkins University, all children lose about 2.6 months of math computational ability over the summer when they do not engage in summer learning activities.  Similar findings have been made with respect to the loss of reading skills over the summer.  The loss is greater for children from a lower socio-economic background and alone accounts for half of the achievement gap between students from lower and higher socio-economic backgrounds.

An easy way to avoid this loss in reading skills is to ensure that your children read lots of books over the summer.  Local public libraries often sponsor summer reading groups and reading contests in house and on line to encourage children with summer reading.  For example, the New York Public Library has a website, www.summerreadingnys.org, filled with fun reading related activities for toddlers through teens.  This site also includes resources for parents to help children keep reading throughout the summer.

Summers are also good times to let your children explore areas of interest in greater depth. In an earlier GCP post, Dr. Tammy Mann, Executive Director of the Frederick D. Patterson Research Institute at the United Negro College Fund, described using summer programs to encourage her children to explore areas (both academic and artistic) in which they’d shown an interest during the school year.  Alternatively, your child can use a summer program to try things he or she has never tried before.  Mann notes that researching these programs for your children takes time and effort:  “It takes a lot of work—you have to look around to see what is out there and make sure that your children are able to take advantage of whatever opportunities exist.  Knowing your children, and being tuned in and attentive to what will spark their imaginations are key.”

Fortunately, there are advisory services to help you sort through the choices of summer camps and enrichment programs.  Two such services recommended by GCP are The Summer Lady and Tips on Trips and Camps.   Ann and Dick Travis of The Summer Lady (www.thesummerlady.com) have relationships with hundreds of camp programs and can help you choose a program that best suits your child’s interests. Barb Levison and the other advisors from Tips on Trips and Camps (www.tipsontripsandcamps.com) can also help you choose from a wide array of programs to find the right one for your child.  Both services are free, and provide personal one-on-one advising to help you find the camp, pre college enrichment program, language immersion, community service, or other specialty program your child would enjoy.  These services contact the camps or programs which interest you and your child, arrange for them to send you additional materials, and advise you on making a choice.

The important thing is to be proactive and focus on it now, as even the local daily summer programs are beginning to fill up.  Many families begin the summer camp investigation as early as January to ensure the maximum number of options for their children. It is not too late to start, but it is time to get going.

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Filed under Holidays, Parents, Summer Camps and Programs