This year, 18 SMART (Start Making A Reader Today) volunteers in Grant County spent time each week reading one-on-one with 50 local students and students picked out nearly 700 books to keep for their very own.
Our logic is simple: When kids think reading is fun, they want to do it, and they’re more likely to hone the skill. However, encouraging kids to have fun with reading isn’t limited to the school year. Students can lose up to one-fourth of their reading skills over the summer, and those losses can add up.
This phenomenon is called the “summer reading slide” and it has negative long-term impacts on student learning, especially when it comes to reaching the third-grade reading benchmark — a critical benchmark for academic success. According to state statistics, over half of Oregon’s third-graders are not currently meeting state reading standards.
The good news is that the summer slide can be avoided by building in some time to read with kids throughout the summer.
Here are four tips for counteracting the summer slide:
• Have books on hand during trips and errands. Keep a stash in the car or in a backpack so they’re always within reach.
• Set a bedtime routine focused on giving kids time with books they enjoy. You can even choose a new book to read aloud as a family.
• Switch it up! Explore a range of reading materials such as kid’s magazines, comic books or even kid-friendly cookbooks.
• Let your kids see you reading. Sharing your enthusiasm for books helps get kids excited about reading too.
The most important thing is to help kids build reading motivation and enjoy books. It’s not about setting a minute or page requirement, but rather, encouraging children to read every day so that when fall rolls around, they’re ready and excited for another year of reading and learning.
To learn more about SMART or sign up to volunteer in a local SMART program this fall, visit getSMARToregon.org or call 541-797-7726.
Jennifer Zardinejad is the SMART central area manager who oversees SMART reading programs in Grant County.