Are you concerned that your students are losing literacy skills when they are not in school? Your concern is well-founded. Experts anticipate that this year’s decline from “the summer slide” will be worse than most years because of the widespread switch to remote learning in March. Most teachers were unable to provide the same level of literacy support during remote education, as they would have done in the classroom. This lapse in literacy instruction worries many people because literacy levels are strongly correlated with graduation rates.
Luckily, with help from students’ families, you can help reduce the summer slide. Children who engage in literacy activities during the summer enter the next grade with sharp minds, ready to learn.
We understand that you are busy preparing for the 2020-21 school term and that you may not have the capacity to send additional tips to families for the summer. We are here to support you with a letter that you can send home to the parents. Feel free to copy and paste the letter below. Then, edit it to include only the parts that are relevant to your school community. Finally, send it to families to give them ideas for supporting their children’s academic success.
One of the easiest ways you can help your children be successful this fall is to encourage them to read for fun. When children enjoy reading, they do it more often and for longer. Their literacy skills naturally improve.
Instead of spending money, access literacy resources provided by non-profit organizations, our school, and the local library.
Try these tips for motivating your children.
- Read with your children. They want to spend quality time bonding with you. Also, modeling reading is the best way to reinforce it as a habit. Even older children and teens are more likely to read when you read with them. There are many ways you can enjoy great stories and non-fiction together. You may want to start by reading aloud to them. This list offers some great choices for books. If your child is a fluent reader, you can also take turns reading aloud. If you don’t like reading aloud, listening to audiobooks together still provides many benefits. Perhaps on some days, you will choose to read separate material while you sit quietly side-by-side. If you are the parent of an emerging reader, please remember that sounding out a word, also called “decoding” is one of several aspects of becoming a strong reader. Decoding is undoubtedly a valuable skill, but many parents lose patience when listening to “cuh-a-t.” If this describes you, avoid conflict by not asking your child to read aloud to you. They will still learn a lot by listening to you read and other reading activities.
- Focus on quantity over quality in the beginning. Great literature can inspire, delight, and teach, but it may not be what your children gravitate to read. After they start reading for pleasure, try expanding their repertoire. To keep your children engaged, help them find reading material that matches their interests, such as their favorite sport. You may even search for reading material that incorporates their favorite characters and storylines from media that they already enjoy. Look at their favorite video games, movies, shows, social media content, and podcasts for inspiration.
- Emphasize the diversity of materials over the difficulty of the text. Like most of us, sometimes children enjoy a challenge and sometimes they are in the mood to relax. Help them find the right balance of reading material to fit their different feelings. Include how-to types of reading, such as repair manuals, recipes, and game instructions. Introduce them to poetry and music to have fun with wordplay. Even graphic novels as silly as Captain Underpants offer some opportunities for learning vocabulary and story constructs. Magazines and newspapers (online and traditional) usually have shorter texts and therefore are a great gateway to reading books.
- Employ the power of positive peer pressure. There are fun online and in-person fan communities for all types of literature. You may wish to host a (virtual or real) meeting with one of your child’s buddies who has read the same book as your child. The kids can share their thoughts about the book while they visit. Younger kids may incorporate the book’s plot into their imaginative play. Older kids may want to write fan fiction or do a related craft.
- Allow your child to do some literacy activities on a screen. Many apps and websites do a great job of enriching a child’s literacy. Technology’s ability to provide quick feedback and limitless patience is an excellent supplement to the challenges many parents express with providing reading opportunities for their children.
Free and Low-Cost Resources
Castle Learning’s self-study program provides a plethora of leveled learning activities, including reading. We provide Castle Learning to our school community. Your child can log in with their Google classroom account (if set up).
Check your local library to see what resources you can borrow. Even if the building is closed, most libraries are finding ways to get books into the hands of people. You can usually download library ebooks from the comfort of your own home.
We look forward to hearing all about your child’s reading adventures.
Jordan Q. Educator
At Castle Learning, we strive to make your job of helping children thrive easier. We hope that this letter to parents helps you support family literacy and prepares students for the next grade.