Schools say summer reading is crucial

CorrespondentMay 18, 2013 

  • Summer reading ideas Kids can practice reading skills without actually opening a book. Here are some suggestions from Briarcliff Elementary School in Cary: •  Write with chalk – An adult calls out letters or words, and the child writes them using chalk on the driveway or sidewalk. •  Trace in sand – A child writes sight words or letters in sand that’s spread on a cookie sheet. •  Jump rope – A child jumps rope while spelling words. •  Cook something – Use recipes and cookbooks to practice vocabulary words and math. •  Play hop scotch – Label each game square with a verb, noun, adjective, adverb, pronoun and contraction. An adult calls out a word, and the child places a marker on the correct part of speech. Then hop around the marker.

— As traditional-calendar elementary students prepare for the outdoor fun of summer vacation, one local school hopes to block the brain drain brought on by the prolonged break.

Teachers and staff at Briarcliff Elementary School hosted a “Summer Reading Adventures” event on Tuesday to encourage kids and parents to come up with fun ways to use reading skills while they enjoy the lazy days of summer.

Books are always a good option, of course, but school leaders say learning can come in many forms. Who’s up for a word-based game of hop scotch or a bookmark-making session?

School principal Stephanie Raiford said students can lose reading skills if they don’t practice them for months. The school measures the skill loss with initial assessments at the start of the school year.

This year, school leaders decided to take pre-emptive action.

“We wanted to try something different,” Raiford said. “We’re trying to prevent what we call the ‘summer loss.’ A lot of times, they just don’t know what opportunities are available. This is our intervention.”

Literacy teacher Tracey Savino said students can lose up to two levels of reading skills over the summer break.

“We needed to come up with activities that are easy and can use things around the house to promote reading,” Savino said.

At Tuesday’s event, staff set up stations for parents and students to get ideas to encourage summertime reading activities.

Eric Hall, a parent of four, said the event was helpful. His 4-year-old son Spencer won’t start school until next year, but he thought it was crucial to show his son early on that reading can be a fun part of play.

“It’s important for them to retain what they learn and hopefully build on what they learn for the next school year,” he said.

In the school’s technology lab, parents learned how to use the Internet to explore the school’s online offerings. Media specialist Donna Allen presented a live Internet demonstration.

“It’s important for them to be able to find good places on the web that encourage summer reading,” Allen said.

Nine-year-old Wendy Ford and her mother, Mary, spent some time at a station devoted to cookbooks. Mary said it can be challenging to convince her daughter that reading is fun, but she hoped a love of cooking could spark some interest.

“We’re really trying to encourage her to read more this summer,” she said.

Jose Olivera recently moved his family from Florida to Cary and was impressed by the school’s effort.

“We didn’t see this kind of thing in Miami,” he said as he colored with sidewalk chalk with his 8-year-old son, Gabriel. “We’re going to be making reading a family activity this summer.”

Amanda Vanega and her daughter, 6-year-old Claudia, browsed the idea stations.

“She’s already a strong reader,” Amanda Vanega said. “I just want to make sure she stays that way.”

Claudia already set one summer-reading goal: “I want to read some big chapter books,” she said.

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