Hit the Books? But It's Summer!

Avoid the slump in your child’s academic path that comes with inactive minds over the summer break.

Kids do need a break from the routine of school. But that doesn’t mean they need a break from mental stimulae.

I was reading a column (How to Raise a Bookworm by Stephanie Weaver) in the US Weekend (May 11-13, 2012) insert to the Sunday paper recently that only one third of of our country’s fourth graders read at or above grade level. I have a fourth-grader who until this year was a very reluctant reader, so this figure struck my attention.

The significance of this literacy issue is further compounded by what educators call the Summer Slide where children who are left to direct their own time over the summer often fall further behind. This has become a hot-button for educators and parents in the years since a Johns Hopkins research study comparing economically disadvantaged students with children from wealthier families who received more academic structure over their vacation was popularized in the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell several years ago.

To keep kids engaged can be as easy as encouraging them to read over the break. During the summer, reading doesn’t have to be a chore.  It can be self-selected and self-paced by your young readers. Reading programs are sponsored by most libraries over the vacation, so kids can receive wonderful incentives (bowling, restaurant, swimming pool coupons, and best of all MORE BOOKS). Many of the libraries offer programs sponsored by SCFD and geared to a summer-long theme.

Broomfield’s Mamie Dowd Eisenhower Public Library is incorporating programs Creatures of the Night with the Colorado Department of Wildlife Management for kids and A Night at the Museum with the Depot for teens for their summer theme Own the Night.

Most programs are free, so keeping your kids mentally connected this summer should be easy enough regardless of your economic situation. Check out your local libraries for fun, free educational and entertaining experiences for all kids.

Todd Tuell is a work-from-home freelance writer, children’s author, Books4Boyz blogger, and father of three. His joy is in watching his kids (way better than TV) and in writing fiction for children and teens. He seeks (and occasionally finds) rare moments of peace and clarity at the bottom of a coffee cup (first thing in the morning), in distance running (never first thing in the morning) and with the perfect ending to a novel (late-late at night).

photo courtesy of flickr / cleverCl@i®ê