Summer is a difficult time to have regular family routines. However, including reading every day can help children stay on track with their language and reading skills. For more ways to help children learn see grandparentsteachtoo.org and wnmufm.org pod casts "Learning Through the Seasons."
Children need three million words from adults before kindergarten. That seems like a staggering amount unless this time is scheduled every day as quiet and active activity times that include talking together. Taking neighborhood walks or attending a city attraction is a good time to discuss what children are experiencing. Grandparents can help build that vocabulary storehouse by planning interesting visits around town parents may not be able to arrange. Talk during the visit and print their words on paper. Perhaps take pictures and make a storybook they can "read." This helps children get the feel of reading and be praised for it.
ANDEREGG, MACALADY, FOX, HETRICK, KATERS
Library visits are critical during the summer. Bring home a variety of fiction and nonfiction books and attend library programs. Then sit in a cozy spot, read with good expression, and discuss the story. Connect relaxation and resting with reading a book.
As your children are learning letters and beginning sounds ask them to identify some on a page occasionally. Ask children questions about the story (who, what, when, where, why, and how) to check for comprehension. Read favorite books many times until children can pretend to read the book themselves. Perhaps they can retell some of it. Encourage children to dress up like the characters and act it out.
Avoid summer slide
Once children are in first grade it is very important to practice reading every day. Children can practice to avoid a summer slide backward that requires reteaching in the fall while others zoom ahead. Summer, after all is one third as long as a school year. Ten to 20 minutes reading out loud every day makes a difference.
There is a rule of five to help choose books. If your children put a finger on five or more words they don't know on a typical page, they probably need help reading the book. It doesn't mean they shouldn't choose it, just that they will need help and tire easily.
Perhaps take turns reading paragraphs. Read at the same time so they mimic your good expression. If they don't know a word, tell them after giving them time to think. Watch for correct reading of punctuation. Stop and lower pitch at periods. Raise pitch at question marks. Pause at commas and sound excited at exclamation marks. Expression helps comprehension.
Look for books with reading levels and chapter books like " The Magic Tree House" series. Your librarians will help. Keep track of reading minutes and give rewards of special activities or privileges with you.
Editor's note: This column is penned by retired Marquette Area Public Schools teachers Iris Katers, Jean Hetrick, and Cheryl Anderegg. Esther Macalady is from Golden, Colorado. Tim Fox currently teaches at Superior Hills Elementary. It's supported by Northern Michigan University Center for Economic Education and Entrepreneurship, the School of Education, U.P. Children's Museum, U.P. Association for the Education of Young Children, and U.P. Parent Awareness of Michigan. Their book "Learning Through the Seasons" is available at area stores and www.grandparentsteachtoo.org. Their mission is to provide fun standards based activities that adults can do in the home to prepare children for school and a lifetime of learning and reduce the stress of child care.