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5 Strategies to Promote Summer Reading Among K-12 Students

July 1st, 2021

The summer season usually spells out fun for children. Reading may not be the first thing, or even in the top 10 things, that they have in mind. But, parents have always known the importance of summer reading. A survey suggests that 94% of parents agree that reading over the summer break can help their children during the ensuing school year. However, the same survey also revealed that nearly half (47%) of the parents were unaware of the “summer slide.”

What is a Summer Slide? Why Does it Matter in 2021?

Researchers use the term “summer slide” to describe the loss of academic skills for students who don’t read during the months when school is closed for the summer. This may have a cumulative effect, with severe and long-reaching consequences. It is estimated that on average, students may lose almost two months of grade-level mathematical computation skills during this time, while low-income students may lose up to two months of reading achievement.

The 2020-2021 school year was anything but normal due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Researchers at Stanford Graduate School of Education conducted a nationwide study on fourth-graders and found that the students’ development of oral reading fluency stopped to a large extent in Spring 2020, after the abrupt school closures brought on by the pandemic.

Although there was an improvement in these skills in the fall of that year, it still wasn’t sufficient to recoup the loss. Another study by the Northwest Evaluation Association indicated that when students resume their classes in Fall 2021, they are likely to retain only 70% of this year’s gains in reading.

The compounded effects of the pandemic-led school closures, along with the summer break, make it more important than ever before to motivate children to continue reading. It will not only help them academically in the months ahead but will also support them socially and emotionally during these difficult times.

5 Effective Strategies to Encourage Summer Reading

Summer reading is particularly key in 2021 to help students accelerate and regain some ground that may have been lost over the past year. Even if there have been some delays, it is not too late to help students gain momentum for the new school year with an effective summer program. Here are five ideas that can be incorporated into this program.

1. Identify Students Who Will Benefit the Most

Students often turn to their teachers for guidance. Teachers should be able to provide constructive and action-oriented feedback, such that it helps students focus on specific areas. Based on this feedback, schools can approach the state government to support their summer programs.

The American Rescue Plan provides nearly $122 billion to states and school districts and requires that states invest at least $1.2 billion on evidence-based summer enrichment programs. Schools can make best use of this financial aid to ensure that the educators are leading instruction to maximize the positive impact on learning outcomes.

They can also plan efficient, streamlined logistics to overcome the obstacles to student participation, especially among low-income families.

2. Use School & Public Libraries

Libraries have a huge selection of books that children can browse through  to find one that interests them. As a matter of fact, schools and public libraries are considered the primary sources for summer reading. A survey suggests that nearly 95% of parents believe that every child needs to have a school library and every community needs to have a public library.

If the students get year-round access to books at home, it can nurture responsibility and pride in their learning, while offering the flexibility to engage with the content with their families too. Schools can also provide print and digital reading resources, along with a list of reading materials for children according to their respective grade or reading level. They can even take the help of free resources like “What Kids are Reading” (a free report that lists popular books and digital reads at every grade level) to prepare such lists.

3. Increase the Involvement of Parents – Is not relevant to intended reading audience*

The role of parents is crucial in ensuring summer learning for children. It can be as simple as taking some time out to sit with their children and read a part of a book or a story in the newspaper aloud together. They can also encourage children to read on their own and ask them to talk about what they read.

Research suggests that students (especially the lower performing students) who practice oral reading at home with family members and use comprehension strategies during independent, silent reading can ensure improved reading achievement.

4. Highlight the Role of Educators

Educators should think outside the box about how to involve students and engage their interests. For instance, they can allow students to pick an elective course on particular days of the week or they can have multiple options or topics for a project. Voluntary summer reading programs work best when adults and teachers get involved and help students choose appropriate books, while employing simple techniques to improve skill and understanding. 

5. Make Use of Digital Learning Platforms

Educators can draw from curated reading lists from online resources so that students can apply their learning to everyday life and personal interests. This process can be significantly eased with a powerful digital learning platform that offers key student analytics.

Publishers can effortlessly build digital libraries with authoring tools that can cut the time to create content by almost 40%, while ensuring complete branding. Another benefit of using a digital learning platform is that their content is available to the students anytime, anywhere, and on the device of their preference, easing access and inclusivity.

The “summer slide” is real and an effective solution is to provide students access to engaging and interactive digital reading materials. MagicBox™ and its advisory team can provide you with a platform to create high-quality content that is at par with the latest standards and overcome these challenges. Contact us to know how we can help with customizing our award-winning platform to your needs.