Avoid summer learning loss

African descent mother happily teaches young son to read at home. Picture book.

Summer learning loss refers to the amount of academic information children and adolescents forget over the course of summer break that puts them further behind in school. Research suggests that students can lose up to three months of reading skills and one month of math skills if they do not practice those skills over the summer.

In fact, a student can fall behind one year in reading skills just from summer reading loss over several summers.

The recommended reading rule for the summer is only 30 minutes per day. If children read 30 minutes a day all summer, they will actually gain reading skills. In fact, children who read 30 minutes per day can gain one to two months of reading skills over the course of the summer.

Here are suggestions for making summer reading fun:

  • Read WITH your children 30 minutes daily. Take turns reading to each other.
  • Keep a book in the car and have your children take turns reading aloud while riding in the car. Discuss the book while in the car.
  • Find books that are fun and interesting for your children to read. Think of a variety of topics – sports, science, adventure, fantasy – and different formats – prose, comic books, graphic novels, magazines, poetry. If a child is interested in the book, she is more willing to read the book with you. Research suggests that choosing books that reflect a child’s home culture can also enhance reading enjoyment and reading comprehension.
  • Consider introducing graphic novels. Graphic novels are books written in comic book format. Evidence suggests that when children read graphic novels, their reading comprehension skills are enhanced by the accompanying pictures. Evidence also suggests that graphic novels use higher level vocabulary words since the author must succinctly tell the same story. Several classic novels have been turned into graphic novels including “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien, “Kindred” by Octavia E. Butler and “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho.
  • Plan a read-and-watch night. Read a book as a family, then watch the movie. Take on the role of movie critic and discuss how the book and movie are similar and different.
  • Choose books that are easier for your child to read in order to build his reading fluency skills. If a child has to sound out four or more words on a page, then that book is too hard for him to read independently. The goal is for your child to feel successful when reading to you.
  • Join your public library summer reading program.

Dr. Adiaha Spinks-Franklin is a developmental pediatrics expert at Texas Children’s Hospital