School is coming to an end very quickly. Parents are just as tired as their kids and ready for a break from the day-to-day routine. Having been a teacher for over a decade, I can’t stress enough the importance of summer work. Summer work you ask? Yes. A break is necessary but too often, children digress over the summer months. Sticking to a light summer learning routine will help avoid this backtracking of learning, allowing your child to start the 2014–2015 school year refreshed and recharged!
Here are some suggestions for children entering grades 1–5 on how to set up a summer reading and writing routine.
Set aside a time for learning. What’s worked best for my family is first thing in the morning before the television turns on and before we even get out of our pajamas (we do this on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, not everyday). We ease into the day with breakfast (and coffee for this tired mama) then we start with a basket of books. Twenty minutes is a good amount of time for all grade levels. Take a trip to the library once a week to fill your basket and keep your children motivated with high-interest books to read.
Another great way to keep your children motivated to read during the summer months is to participate in your library’s summer reading program (think prizes and rewards!).
Things to do while your children are reading:
- Ask questions about the story.
- Have them tell you the story elements.
- Encourage them to make connections to what they are reading.
- Ask them to make predictions.
- Tell your children to summarize the author’s message/purpose of the story and listen to them retell you the story.
After reading time is over, we’re done for the morning.
We then sit down together at the kitchen table for another 15–20 minutes in the afternoon. This is after we’ve spent time out in the sun and everyone needs some quiet time indoors. As far as writing goes, let your child pick out a fun notebook for summer writing. We also use a summer bridge book (think workbook that reviews age-appropriate skills over the summer months. I get ours from Costco in May before they sell out) that we spend time working on a few days a week.
Going back to that writing notebook, what should you have your child write? In order for children grades 1–5 to keep up with the rigorous curriculum, focus on these three types of writing assignments through out the summer: opinion writing pieces (point of view), informational text or explanatory, and narrative stories (which is the one we first think of when asking our children to write).
An example of an opinion piece could start by asking your child to write whether or not he prefers ice cream from the local ice cream parlor or from the ice cream truck and why? He should be able to give examples to support their point of view/opinion.
Your family is taking a trip to the zoo? This is a great time to choose an animal to learn about and write about at home as an informational piece. You’re planning a family reunion? Ask your child to help you plan and explain what she needs to do to get ready in a writing piece.
Things to do while your child is writing:
- Encourage them to add details (revision).
- Ask them to go back and edit their grammar, spelling, punctuation and capitalization.
- Help them come up with a variety of words to use (word choice).
- For added fun, ask your child to illustrate some of their writing pieces.
Other writing help:
- Refer to this article for detailed standards for children grades K–5.
- Here are some general writing prompts you can give when your children claim they have nothing to write about.
- For some unique summer writing ideas, read my post.
- For writing ideas for toddlers and preschoolers, read my post.
– Maria Dismondy, mother of two, reading specialist, fitness instructor and bestselling children’s author living in Southeast Michigan.