Thursday, April 20, 2017

Read. Read. Read. Then Read Some More.

One of my kids doesn't like to read.

He only confessed to me recently, though I've had my suspicions for years. Even though he was a good reader, he rarely chose reading during free time. He was far more likely to be drawing in a notebook than reading before bed, especially if he'd already completed his required 20 minutes of homework mandated reading. He's so loyal to the few authors he likes that he would rather read a Big Nate  book for the 110th time than try anything new. And he's never told me about a book he's reading spontaneously.

I mention his dislike only to show that:
  1. This happens even in families where everyone else is obsessed with reading,
  2. Clearly nature plays a role here,
  3. It's possible to make your kid read over the summer anyway. 

Even though my darling middle child doesn't like reading, he does it every day - even in the summer. Part of it is because he's not allowed to play video games until he has, but it's also because I've showered him with reasons why he should.

I stole ideas from:

Sure, he's only slightly more enthusiastic about reading (even when it's rereading his favorite graphic novels) than he is about brushing his teeth, but he's still getting the benefits. 

That's why my number one suggestion for summer learning is reading. Make it a goal for your kids to read every day. (They won't. Mine don't. But with a goal of "every day", we manage to read most days. It seems to work.

If your kid struggles with reading, it's even more important for him/her to read as much as possible every summer. But that doesn't mean you have to struggle too. 

You could pin this, you know. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Origin Story

I was an elementary school teacher for 12 years, including 9 years at inner city public schools. I've also tutored kindergarten through high school, both while I was teaching full time and more recently as my first out-of-the-house-job in many years. I also have three kids of my own who sometimes let me help them with their school work.

And every kid I've ever worked with has lost academic ground over the summer. 

Every. Single. One. 

You might say - as I did, for the first few years I taught- well, this is only a problem for the kids who are already struggling or behind. And then I looped - I moved from first grade to second grade with the same group of kids. They were great kids. And I knew exactly where we'd left off academically, so I assumed we would jump right into the second grade curriculum. I even gave them 20 pages of worksheets to do over the summer! It wouldn't be like those other years, when I'd had to backtrack and go over things they should have learned the year before. I knew they'd all had a very competent (ahem) first grade teacher, knew that most of them were where they needed to be to jump back into second grade.

But much to my chagrin, even my most capable students had lost ground. I still spent the first 6 weeks reviewing first grade, despite the fact that almost every kid did their summer homework. And that review time was not great for anybody. It was too fast for the struggling kids, undermined the self-confidence of capable kids, bored the highly capable students and frustrated me.

Research showed me that my class was far from unique, but didn't exactly tell me how to fix it - overhauling the entire educational system and making year-round learning available for all my students were way beyond my pay grade.

I tried, instead, to give them more quality summer learning activities and to emphasize to their parents how important it was for them to read every day over the summer. Guess what? The parents who had the time/energy/resources/interest to make their kids learn over the summer had kids who didn't lose much, if any, ground over the summer.

The secret weapon of all successful teachers, schools and districts is always the parents.

This site is for those parents who aren't obsessive former teachers like myself, but who do want to stop the summer slide.

Read. Read. Read. Then Read Some More.

One of my kids doesn't like to read. He only confessed to me recently, though I've had my suspicions for years. Even though he was...