|photo taken by Serra|
So I sat down at my computer armed with my research face, my books, and my notebook.
As I read journal articles, studies, and opinions, it all came back to the extraordinarily simple task of reading.
Read to your child. That is the main and best thing you can do.
There are, of course, other things you can do to help out. Here is my plan for the summer:
- Read Aloud Every Day: We already do this, and there is no way we could not do this unless we wanted a total mutiny, so this will easily continue on as it has. Some experts suggest 20 minutes a day, some 30. We tracked minutes for school this year and I found we were reading usually about 90 minutes a day total. Wow. I had no idea.
- Sustained Silent Reading: This is described in The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease. The basics of it is that you sit and read what you want in the same room as your child, who is sitting and reading what he wants (comics, magazine...whatever he wants--so long as it is morally okay with you). You then silently read to yourselves for 30 minutes. We have done this off and on. It gets hard during the school year, but is so fabulous. Brayden loved it even before he could read, so I know he will love it even more now that he can read to himself.
- Learning Activity: I plan to continue to have our daily learning activities over the course of the summer.
- Visit the Library: I plan to continue to visit the library at least every two weeks. We will also be participating in our library's summer reading program.
- Play Sports: We will play sports in our backyard together. A healthy body is part of having a healthy mind. We will also do swimming lessons, and we will attend sporting events. Watching a sport played helps you learn how it should be played.
- Go for Walks and Bike Rides: In Reading Magic by Mem Fox, Fox really stresses the importance of the child having a knowledge of the world to make reading meaningful (a point Trelease also stresses). Going for walks or bike rides gets your child acquainted with the area around you. These are slow-moving activities (at least compared to a car ride), so the child can really pay attention to things.
- Visit Local Museums: The benefits of this is the same as I mentioned above. This expands the child's knowledge of the world beyond his own neighborhood. This takes him into entire different worlds.
- Family Vacations: We will do some family vacations, and most of those will be camping. Again, vacations expand the child's view and knowledge of the world. Do you know what we will do on our drive there? A big thing will be listening to books on tape/CD.
- Attend Summer Activities: There are lots of local summer activities in a community. There are parades, fairs, and town festivals. Again, these expand the child's base knowledge.
- Free Play: We will also be sure to include plenty of free play with friends and family to allow for imagination growth.
- Structured Play: We will have structured playing time as well to help focus various skills.
- Piano: Brayden will continue to practice piano and will take piano lessons for part of the summer.
I think the two main themes here are very natural for parents to do on their own. One is to read to children each day. Have exposure to books. Visit the library.
The second is to expand your child's knowledge of the world. Take advantage of the fun events of the summer. Go for walks and hikes. Remember, a child's view of the world is so small; you don't need to go to Europe to expand the view. Going across town can do so.