In my opinion, one of the easiest and most beneficial things that you can do always, but especially in the summer, is just simply to read! Whether your child is a toddler or capable of reading on their own, reading can and should be a daily activity. I think literacy skills affect all other areas of learning, so why not make reading a priority?
The simple act of reading can help support literacy development. But here are some very general tips and guidelines for some simple things you can do along side reading.
For pre-readers (usually ages 0-4):
*Talk about the pictures and the story. Don't be afraid to ask them questions and let them talk as well.
*Point out words and letters, and emphasize different aspects of print such as looking at the cover, starting at the beginning and turning pages, tracking the words from left to right, etc.
*As often as possible, link words to their pictures to help build vocabulary knowledge.
*Try to find books that engage their interest and can build upon their current knowledge and life experiences.
*As children move from infancy to the preschool years, encourage them to "read" the books to you, by telling their own story using the pictures.
For early readers (Kindergarteners & First Graders):
Read out loud to them
*This is a great time to model how to read and practice the strategies they have learned. For example, you can pretend to get stuck on a word, and let them help you figure it out using those strategies.
*You can select books that they can comprehend and enjoy, but are above their own reading level.
*Build their comprehension skills by talking with them before, during, and after you read the story.
*Discuss elements of the story such as plot, characters, and setting by asking questions and having them make predictions about what will happen.
*Emphasize new vocabulary words or concepts.
Have them read out loud to you:
*Try to find books that are on their reading level. (A good rule of thumb to follow is that if they turn to a random page and get stuck on five or more words, it is probably too hard.) You might ask for suggestions from their current teacher or a librarian about books or readers that would be appropriate for their level.
*Encourage them to read as much as they can without your help, but not to the point where they get frustrated. Helping them to use strategies when they get stuck on a word is usually better than just telling them what the word is.
*As they progress, let them try reading silently to themselves as well as out loud. Just make sure to still talk with them about what they read to encourage good comprehension.
For developing readers (Second & Third Graders) Generally the same principles as before, just at a higher level.
Read out loud to them
*Model fluent and expressive reading, and build comprehension skills using the same ideas listed above.
*This can be a fun age to select chapter books or series that are engaging, but may be a bit too hard for them to read on their own.
Have them read independently
*Both through reading out loud and silently on their own
*It is still appropriate to give guidance and help with reading strategies where needed, but encourage their independence as much as possible.
*It is always a good idea to talk with them about what they are reading. Encourage them to summarize events of the story, to describe the setting and characters in greater detail, and to think critically about the plot and the writing style.
Don't be afraid to use a wide variety of books: picture books, poetry books, informational (non-fiction) books, chapter books, etc. It's also great to let them re-read books if they really like them. Re-reading can be beneficial for improving fluency skills.
Well, these are just a few things that you can do during reading time. So whether it's 10 minutes, 20 minutes, or hours on end---take the time. It will definitely be time well spent. I will surely be posting much more about other ways to promote literacy, as well as some fun ideas for enriching reading experiences. If you haven't noticed already, I'm a huge advocate for facilitating literacy skills. That is because literacy is linked to success not only in school, but in life!
And I'm not the only one...Check out this article from KSL's Book Matters Column and UEN's Summer Reading Site for some more tips on how to promote reading this summer.