Summer reading initiatives can eliminate summer slide, but how can you ensure your students—and their families—stay engaged throughout the break? Here are five tips

Planning now for summer programs is more important than ever as schools face widening learning gaps due to the pandemic. A few years ago, the summer reading options my district, Elizabethtown Independent Schools, offered were fairly meager.

We had a summer school program for students who were struggling, but we didn’t really have a program designed to reach all of our students and prevent the summer slide students experience during the long break. Our students were falling behind. We had approximately 50 percent reading at grade level by third grade. We knew something had to change.

Related content: 5 tips to avoid the summer slide

When we began looking for a summer reading program for our early readers, we knew we wanted a partner who would let students select their own books and keep them after they read them. Eventually, we chose Kids Read Now, in part because the program not only lets students keep the books, but they’re delivered in the mail, which is pretty exciting to kids and even more essential during Covid-19 remote learning protocols.

No matter what program you use, here are the five keys to making a summer reading initiative a success. These apply equally well for extended breaks or home learning during the pandemic.

Family engagement

Family engagement is baked into the Kids Read Now program. Within two weeks of the end of the school year, participating schools can hold a live or virtual parent event designed to help families understand the program. Students get to choose nine titles for their wish list, and they receive three of them at the kickoff event or, in the case of a virtual kickoff, the first one will be mailed home. Each week another book is mailed to the home. Plus, each time a family member reports their child has completed a book, students will move a step closer to completing the summer challenge and earn a certificate and prize. At the event, families learn how to report books and learn about using the discovery sheet stickers in each book, which have four activities for engaging their children at home to build comprehension and reading skills.

Planning now for summer programs is more important than ever as schools face widening learning gaps due to the pandemic. A few years ago, the summer reading options my district, Elizabethtown Independent Schools, offered were fairly meager.

We had a summer school program for students who were struggling, but we didn’t really have a program designed to reach all of our students and prevent the summer slide students experience during the long break. Our students were falling behind. We had approximately 50 percent reading at grade level by third grade. We knew something had to change.

When we began looking for a summer reading program for our early readers, we knew we wanted a partner who would let students select their own books and keep them after they read them. Eventually, we chose Kids Read Now, in part because the program not only lets students keep the books, but they’re delivered in the mail, which is pretty exciting to kids and even more essential during Covid-19 remote learning protocols.

No matter what program you use, here are the five keys to making a summer reading initiative a success. These apply equally well for extended breaks or home learning during the pandemic.

Family engagement

Family engagement is baked into the Kids Read Now program. Within two weeks of the end of the school year, participating schools can hold a live or virtual parent event designed to help families understand the program. Students get to choose nine titles for their wish list, and they receive three of them at the kickoff event or, in the case of a virtual kickoff, the first one will be mailed home. Each week another book is mailed to the home. Plus, each time a family member reports their child has completed a book, students will move a step closer to completing the summer challenge and earn a certificate and prize. At the event, families learn how to report books and learn about using the discovery sheet stickers in each book, which have four activities for engaging their children at home to build comprehension and reading skills.

Our teachers had families eager to begin before the family event even began, too. We’d never had a program where students got to keep books in such volume. So the teachers were excited and that excitement bubbled over to families as teachers notified and chatted with them about the event. Although this coming spring, those events may be virtual, the bi-lingual parent guides mailed home inform and excite families.

Throughout the summer, teachers kept track of student progress online and many helped keep reading at the front of everyone’s mind by sending notes home through Remind 101. Some of them even made phone calls. I could really see a difference in the number of books students were completing depending on whether their teacher was making an effort to reach out. I think it was a big piece of how much effort students kept up through the summer.

We really hope and push for families to actively engage with each of their children’s books because we’ve learned over time that family engagement is a key element of student reading achievement. Without that support, they just don’t progress as much, and reading is the foundation for everything else.

Student Choice

Allowing students to choose what books they read is the other key factor in their engagement. It gives them ownership of their learning and ensures they have books they’re interested in. This initiative was for students in grades K-3, and children that young don’t have control of very many things, so getting to make a choice is a big deal for them.
source: Read More, eSchool News

Leave a Reply