Research shows that students who read over summer break end up boosting their reading skills, while those who do not, often slide backward, losing up to two months of what they learned during the school year. This is why teachers always encourage students to read as much as possible over summer break. But if your last parent-teacher conference came with a specific suggestion—to get reading support during the summer months—you are likely considering one of the following:
1. Reading more with your child, taking on the role of “teacher” yourself
2. Hiring a “reading specialist” to tutor your child 1 or 2 times per week
3. Joining a library reading challenge for extra practice
4. Enrolling your child in a reading camp
5. Doing nothing—because perhaps reading has not yet “clicked” for your child
Any of these options can seem like a good idea, so it can be hard to determine the right solution for improving your child’s reading. Rest assured that many parents of primary grade students share this dilemma. With the precious summer months and hopes for a better school year at stake, it’s important to make the right plan for summer learning.
What your child needs for success
Reading is an integration of processing skills: word attack, sight word recognition, contextual fluency, oral vocabulary, and comprehension. For many students, a cause of reading difficulties is weak symbol imagery—the ability to visualize letters in the mind’s eye. The connection of imagery and language is necessary for sounding out new words, as well as for recognizing letters and common words. This difficulty can prevent students from accessing school curriculum as quickly and accurately as their peers do. Students who read fluently, and are able to self-correct their errors, are exhibiting strong symbol imagery. Learn more about symbol imagery and solutions for reading difficulties here.
Traditional reading camps and tutoring programs focus on content-area instruction, spelling, and reading rules. They may also touch on a variety of reading strategies. While these activities have value, they will not address and improve the underlying cause of a reading difficulty—thereby stretching the issue into the next school year.
And, unfortunately, practice does not “make perfect” for students who struggle with reading. While reading with your child and frequenting the library are excellent activities for all families, neither activity will improve reading if there is an unaddressed weakness.
Enough help to make a difference
Even great learning programs can be ineffective if they are not conducted with enough intensity to actually change learning. If a child falls behind peers in reading skills, intervention has to decrease the learning gap by increasing the rate of learning. To increase the rate of learning, students need the right diagnosis and the right instruction, in the right environment. At Lindamood-Bell’s learning centers, our daily, intensive intervention commonly results in years of gain in just a matter of weeks of instruction.
Learn more about intensive instruction, including a video featuring a parent’s perspective, here.
Beware of the “summer slide”
Questioning the teacher’s advice about summer help altogether? You’re not alone. Parents may wonder if a child’s reading is truly unsatisfactory as compared to his or her classroom peers. Or, they may wonder if it would be better to take a total break from schoolwork.
When a teacher has indicated that a child could benefit from reading help, she has likely considered these factors, and more. For many students, two months away from academics can lead to measurable learning losses in skills—which, of course, is not what any family wants to be faced with at the start of the upcoming school year. The summer slide effect hits struggling readers harder than their peers; so, if your teacher has identified an issue, your child may be at risk of starting school even further behind.
The first step of a great plan
If you or your child’s teacher are seeing signs of a possible reading difficulty, or you are concerned that reading hasn’t yet “kicked in,” you need to find out why and discover that there is help. A learning ability evaluation uncovers the strengths and weaknesses that impact learning. At our learning centers, we can identify the strengths and weaknesses that may be affecting school, and we can make recommendations for an individualized instruction plan.
Ask us about our Complimentary Diagnostic Screening for Learning. This free screening takes twenty-to-thirty minutes, measures your student’s reading and comprehension skills–and includes a consultation with our Center Director. The information you’ll receive can help answer questions about school performance, behavior, frustrations, homework issues, and expectations.
A few weeks at one of our learning centers can make reading a strength before the next academic year. Your child can become a better reader in time for school and have plenty of time for a great summer break.
In this video, a father shares his daughter’s struggle with learning to read and the success she found when they came to Lindamood-Bell:
Go here for a list of our locations, including our seasonal, summer-time learning camps. We look forward to helping you plan for summer learning that will make a difference for your child.
Double Bay: (02) 9328 7119 | Chatswood: (02) 9410 1006