Reading is one skill that is worth spending time to improve every summer and throughout the school year. This is true for the beginning reader as well as the skilled older reader. The major key to children's success in school is being a good reader. parents can do so much in a casual way to improve their children's reading skills.
Each of our learning activities focuses on a a particular area of reading. Whatever you do to work with your children on their reading skills will pay great future dividends in every one of their classes. Summer is a great time to concentrate on improving children's reading skills. Without some work in reading during this vacation time, your children's literacy skills may decline.
We have tried to make our reading activities fun so children will truly enjoy them while improving this basic skill. To focus on the related skills of handwriting, spelling, vocabulary building, listening, speaking, grammar and storytelling, go to the Language Art section of Learning Activities.
Family Reading Half Hour
Parents can do so much in a casual way to improve their children's reading during the summer or any time of the year. A great activity is what we call the "Family Reading Half-Hour." Try to choose the same time each day and make it a seven-day-a-week activity. Immediately after supper works well for many families. During that time, everyone will sit in the same room and read -- no television or phone calls permitted. Parents will sit and read with their children.
Just seeing you read will inspire your children to read. Dr. Ena Shelley of the College of Education at Butler University suggests choosing well-written, attractive, interesting books that will allow the children to experience the joys of being lost in a book. After the reading time is up, family members can resume their usual activities. What is being read doesn't need to be discussed unless family members wish to do so. Hopefully, by the end of the summer everyone in the family will develop into an avid reader. Plus, the more children read, the better they will read.
Book Club Fun
Increasing your children's reading skills works best if appealing activities are chosen. One possibility is starting a parent-child book club. Belonging to a book club offers children these benefits:
--Getting other children's and parents' perspectives on a book --Discussing difficult issues brought up in a book in a comfortable environment --Receiving practice in analyzing books (helpful for future book reports) --Increasing language skills through discussions of books --Enhancing closeness to a parent
Book clubs work best when the children are about the same age and have similar reading skills. In the early elementary years, poor readers can have their parents read the books to them. Older readers with weak skills can participate in same-age clubs by listening to books on tape. Book clubs should not have too many participants, as this limits individual participation.
It's easiest to begin a book club by talking with one or more parents of young children who might be interested. Older children can do much of the work of starting a book club. Once possible participants have been chosen, an organizational meeting needs to be held to discuss the place, time and format of the meetings and possible books.
The important part of each meeting is the discussion by parents and children. Limit the time to what is appropriate to the age of the children. And don't forget to include refreshments.
Motivational Fun Activities
Most unmotivated readers don't associate reading with the word "fun." They limit their reading to school assignments and are convinced that they will never get any pleasure out of reading. If your children are not motivated to read, there are activities that you can do with them, especially in the summer, to get them hooked on reading. No matter how old they are, one of the best ways to accomplish this is to read aloud to them so that they will learn how enjoyable reading can be. Choose materials that will make them chuckle and even laugh. The poems of Shel Silverstein, Jack Prelutsky and Bruce Lansky will tickle their funny bones. Also, try reading short stories and riddle books to your children. Your local librarian will have many other suggestions for you.
Make it extra easy for the unmotivated readers in your home to read by having reading materials spread throughout your home. Magazines, newspapers, crossword-puzzle books, vacation brochures and even comic books can entice reluctant readers to do some reading. Plus, every child should have his or her personal library of books. Don't just have story books; many children enjoy nonfiction. And in this electronic age, ebooks can be great motivational tools.
Other things that you can do to help motivate your children to read include: starting a book club with neighbors, having them take part in library reading programs and giving them magazine subscriptions. And when your children want to delay turning their lights out at night, let them stay up another 15 to 30 minutes if they will spend that time reading in bed.</>
Becoming an Active Reader
Really good readers interact with what they are reading and tie it back to their own knowledge and experiences. Preschool and Kindergarten • As you read to your young children, stop and ask them questions that make them think: Was it wise for Jack to sell the cow for some beans? Should Jack have taken the ogre's gold? ("Jack and the Beanstalk") Elementary School Have a time when everyone in your house sits in the same room and reads his or her book. Set a timer for five minutes. When the buzzer goes off, ask: • What will the hero do next? • Everyone then resumes reading. Then the next time the buzzer goes off, ask: • Did he or she act as you predicted? • If not, would your prediction have made a better story? Why? Middle School and Beyond • Take turns reading a book with your child. At the end of every reading session, discuss together whether the hero acted wisely.
A Newspaper Scavenger Hunt
Nothing will ensure that there will be another generation of newspaper readers like introducing your children to all newspapers offer. A scavenger hunt will acquaint your children with the organization of the newspaper and reinforce its very practical uses. Older children can race against the clock or their parents, and younger children and their parents can do some of the activities together. Have your children hunt through a newspaper to find the items listed below:
- the index
- a favorite comic strip
- a movie to see
- something good to eat
- the cost of the paper
- tomorrow's weather
- the last or closing price of a stock
- the score of a Major League Baseball game
- the best TV program to watch at 5:00 p.m.
- a letter to the editor
- something that makes you frown
- something that makes you smile
- a picture of a public official
- a local news story
- a chart or graph
- a story on health
- an ad for a dog
- something to drive
- a quote
- a crossword or word puzzle
- an advice column
- a headline from a story that is good news
- a picture of someone you'd like to meet
- a story about another state
- something funny that is not on the comics page
When your older children have completed the activity, have them classify the items into sections, like: world news, local news, sports and entertainment. Extend the activity for younger children by having them circle all the smiling faces on the comics pages. Then read a few of the comics to them.
Try to make enjoying the paper together a weekly ritual. The more your children learn about the newspaper, the easier it will be for them to use it for their schoolwork. After all, it is the only textbook that is always up-to-date.
You should make sure your children are challenged a little in the directions that they are going to read in these activities to help them to build up their reading comprehension skills. Children can read directions to build models or make jewelry. They can learn to make origami figures, build terrariums and bird houses, draw cartoons, play a new game and construct a toy.
They can follow directions and make foods of all kinds, from recipes for pizza and ice cream to other fun foods. Children also can read the recipes for making play dough or even butter to put on a piece of bread or an ear of corn. You can get all of these recipes online.
Learning to follow directions is important. For example, whenever one gets a new computer, an app, a new board game or even takes a test, directions need to be followed carefully.