The Summer Slide that is. Have you ever heard of it? The Summer Slide? It’s a real thing. (Especially for littles without access to books.) It’s the months our kiddos are out of school, and learning slides back (officially called learning regression). They forget things. You know the saying- if you don’t use it, you loose it. Especially when it comes to reading.
Are you thinking, wait they’ve already been out of school so much? Is there a COVID Slide? Yes, and you should be worried.
My daughter is going into 2nd grade. Once COVID hit and I was her "teacher", the novelty wore off quickly. She stopped wanting to read to me. I noticed the reading gains she made in 1st grade (they were big!) were slipping. So what did I do? I went back to the basics and played the games on my site. If she wasn’t going to read, I wasn’t going to let her loose those foundational skills that she will need when she’s ready to pick up a book again.
The research is not out yet, but I’ve seen some preliminary statistics around the impact school closures will have, coupled with the summer months. It doesn’t look pretty. Reading skills especially. Because reading is my jam, I’m very concerned.
Schools are saying they’re prepared to reteach and review in order for kids catch-up. That’s awesome, but there's also a developmental timeline. The later your little one learns to read, the harder it will be.
The good news is there is a TON you can do to lessen the backward slide in reading. Of course reading daily is a biggie. Engaging in the text as you read is another one- ask questions, discuss new vocabulary words, and include your little one in the process. Have fun with stories- act them out, 'visit' far away places. Show the love of reading!
Beyond daily reading (either you or them), you need to focus on building age appropriate reading skills. When I say skills, I mean the actual skill of reading (phonics, decoding, fluency). Check out my list below. This gives you areas to focus on by age that will help build or keep that foundation solid.
If you have a...
…2/3 year old- focus on print and book awareness (front of the book, back of the book, we read left to right); rhyme, rhyme, rhyme- read them rhymes, have them practice saying rhyming words, sing (let me hear your best Twinkle Twinkle Little Star).; and getting to know those letters. Start with the letters in their name and family members’ names.
…4/5 year old- focus rhyming, letter mastery (Really know those letters!! Names, shapes, sounds); phonemic awareness (HUGE!! If you don't know what this is, read my blog on it.); high frequency words; and repetitive text that they can eventually ‘read’ themselves, like Brown Bear, Brown Bear, to build their confidence.
…6/7 year old- focus on more complex phonemic awareness (Can they tell you the first sound in a word? Replace that first sound with a different sound and make a new word? Tell you how many sounds are in a word?); high frequency words; and fluency (have them read shorter books or passages multiple times).
No matter where your little one is on his or her reading journey, you can help nurture those skills this summer. If you want to learn more about early literacy and games you can play, sign up for my series The Summer Climb. We're going to take a very light and fun approach to this- playing games each week to practice pre-reading skills. I will teach you twelve games throughout the series, and explain what they’re doing behind the scenes to keep your kiddo from slipping down the summer reading slide. Don't let them fall!