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How to Help Your Child Get the Most From Summer Reading

Summertime and the readin’ is easy. Or not. No doubt, your children have a book or two (or more) on Rebecca Metzger-blog author and executive function coach for Beyond BookSmarttheir lists to complete before they head back to school - but how will they retain that information and make the most of the juicy learning opportunities ahead?

As students advance through school, learning becomes increasingly dependent on their reading abilities. Effective and consistent reading is important to sustained learning and enhances students’ self-esteem, confidence, and motivation.

Now is a great time to learn some strategies that will help your kids engage, connect, and recall their summer reading. We’ve whipped up a fresh batch of BDA (before, during, and after) reading strategies to try out while the pace of daily life is less hectic, offering a chance to find some new ideas to use in the coming school year.

Before Reading Strategies

Before Reading Strategies are intended to activate your child’s existing background knowledge so that they can connect it to the things they read in the text.

  • PREVIEWING: Review any response questions or vocabulary provided by the teacher in advance of the reading. Previewing response questions sets a purpose for your child’s reading and makes it easier for them to identify key information needed to answer the follow up questions. Previewing vocabulary will also help determine if there are any unfamiliar words that should be defined to support your child’s comprehension as they read.
  • MAKING PREDICTIONS: Predicting is an important skill that requires your child to think ahead and make connections. Encourage your child to read the book title and first few sentences, peruse the chapter headings and illustrations, and look over any questions and word lists provided. Then have them try to connect this information to what they already know, and guess what the book will be about. Remember that there is no “right” or “wrong” answer as long as the prediction can be supported.

During Reading Strategies

During Reading Strategies are meant to help your child pace and improve their reading while also monitoring their understanding.

  • CHUNKING: Chunk reading material into smaller parts by predetermining the number of pages or length of time your child will sit and read. This helps reading feel more manageable for struggling readers, children with processing delays, or those who are easily distracted and prefer to be active. Chunking also prevents your child from reading too much before they or someone else realizes that they don’t understand the text. After completing the predetermined time or number of pages, allow for a movement break and check for understanding by asking your child: Do you understand? Can you picture it? Can you express what happened in the text using your own words? These same questions can be used by older children to complete a self-check.
  • STOP, THINK, & JOT: The Stop, Think, and Jot strategy prompts children to periodically stop (after each paragraph, page, or section), think about what they are reading, and use sticky post-it notes to jot down reflections, questions, unfamiliar words, or important details (i.e., research facts, characters, setting, problem, solution etc.). This builds critical thinking, deepens comprehension, and improves memory and retention for the text and its details.

After Reading Strategies

After Reading Strategies allow your child to reflect and respond to text.

  • SUMMARIZING AND RETELLING: Summarizing and retelling text is a valuable skill. It means filtering through irrelevant details to identify the most important ideas and integrating them in a meaningful way. Effective summarizing and retelling demonstrate understanding and can help improve your child’s memory for the text. These helpful graphic organizers support summarizing and retelling skills: 5Ws for Informational Text, Somebody Wanted But So Then, Story Elements.
  • MAKING CONNECTIONS: Children enjoy and understand their reading more deeply when they can find ways to relate to the text.  The three most common connections are text-to-self, text-to-text, and text-to-world. Help your child make these authentic, personal connections to their reading by using these prompts/questions:
Text-to-Self Text-to-Text Text-to-World
I feel like (character) when I... Have I read something like this before? Does this remind me of something in the real world?
If that happened to me, I would... How is this book similar or different to other books I’ve read? What events in this story are similar or different to the events of the real world?

 

VISUAL REPRESENTATIONS:  Visual expression may appeal to children who struggle with sentence formulation or have an artistic flare. Give your child the option of creating a visual representation of what they have read using any artistic medium (i.e., pencils, markers, paint, clay, collage, etc.). Your child can demonstrate their understanding in forms other than writing to further reinforce their reading.

Summer is a great time to build active reading skills. Start with just one or two of these suggestions so your child won't feel overwhelmed. Consider modeling these strategies for your kids in your own family summer reading book club. You’ll be building skills to start them off strong after the popsicles have been eaten and the sidewalk chalk has been washed away for the season.

Executive Function coaches help students become effective, strategic readers - and so much more. Read our case studies to see how we work with students who have a variety of learning profiles.

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Rebecca Metzger M.S., SLP-CCC, TSSLD is an Executive Function coach with Beyond BookSmart. She is a New York State licensed and ASHA certified speech-language pathologist who has worked with general and special education children in the school setting for over five years. Her areas of expertise include reading, writing, auditory memory training, and EF skills development. Rebecca is particularly passionate about teaching organizational structures, strategies related to planning, prioritizing, and time management, and tools for task initiation and increased attention. In recent years, she has also worked with corporate executives on presentations, TEDx talks, and book submissions.

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