Literacy Activities Can Make Summer Fun
by Dr. Jennifer Watson

girl with books
Students and their families look forward to summer vacation time. However, teachers are aware of one disadvantage of students’ summer break from the books — the need for a certain amount of reteaching when classes convene in the fall. Families can cut down on some of this review time if they stay engaged in learning all summer long. Reading and writing activities can keep minds in shape as well as provide entertainment.

Research shows that the amount of reading we do is just as important or more important than the quality of what we read in maintaining our reading skills. With that in mind, don’t worry too much if kids don’t want to check out "the classics" for their self-paced summer reading program.

Just encourage them to keep reading, be it comic books, fan magazines, or computer software manuals. Eyes that avoid the printed word for 12 weeks have a hard time focusing when school begins. Libraries and bookstores have a range of programs that can engage children in reading activities. These opportunities are just a phone call away.

But community programs won’t make the impact of a parent or guardian. Studies have shown that, especially for males, role models who read are essential. Boys need to see their fathers or other significant male adults reading regularly.

Most books written for upper elementary and middle grade students can be read in the time it takes to watch a major league baseball game on TV, or a movie on video. Why not invest in two copies of a paperback book and read it with your kid?

To motivate writing practice, students need just two basic supplies: a pencil and a clean spiral notebook. Children can write for real purposes when they keep a log of the family trip, write captions for pictures they have taken, send thank-you notes and letters to relatives they have visited, and mail postcards to friends back home.

Journaling or keeping a diary isn’t for everyone, but it can be encouraged by adult modeling. E-mail has revived the dying tradition of the pen pal for those with Internet access, and even doing an Internet search can keep writing skills sharp.

With the impending Oklahoma heat, summer days may get a little hazy and crazy, but they don’t have to be lazy as well. Families who read and write together will not only be giving their mental muscles some exercise, they’ll be making memories that last long after the photos have faded.