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What is the summer slide?

summer slide reading comprehension skillsDuring the summer months, school children, particularly those with learning and behavioral disorders like dyslexia and ADHD, often experience the summer slide, which is the loss of reading skills and comprehension achieved during the school year due to lack of reading during the summer months. If your child is at risk for the summer slide, use these tips to prevent the loss of reading skills:

Encourage your child to read short passages during the day. Children with learning and behavioral problems are often ready to enjoy a long break from their structured learning environment during the summer months. Help kids avoid the summer slide by providing quick reading tasks that easily integrate into their day. For example, use a dry erase board to write the child's schedule and a favorite quote on the board daily. Ask your child to read what's on the board aloud to you each morning. If your child is excited to attend a summertime social event, have him or her check the weather forecast online and read it to you before attending. Encourage your child to read signs when shopping, menus when you're at restaurants, and other print you see each day. For kids who avoid reading, keeping tasks short and integrating them into each day will ease frustration.

Reward your child's effort. Research shows that reading just six books during the summer months can help kids avoid the summer slide. Encourage your child to set a summer reading goal and decide on a completion date. Keep a tally of books comopleted so your child can "see" his or her progress and visually relate it to accomplishing his or her goal. Offer incremental rewards for completing milestones, like getting to the halfway point of the total goal, to keep kids motivated. Whether it be extra screen time or dinner at a favorite restaurant, let your child know you appreciate his or her effort and accomplishments by rewarding progress. Verbal praise for a job well done throughout the summer is important as well.

Choose the right books. Kids should be reading books that challenge their current reading level without being so difficult that reading causes frustration. Check with your child's school about his or her current Lexile® level, which is an indicator of reading ability that helps match kids with appropriate texts for growth and comprehension. If your child's school doesn't utilize the Lexile® system, consider speaking with a media specialist at your local public library. Most public libraries have media specialists who can offer suggestions for choosing books depending on your child's grade level and interests. Take advantage of your public library's free summer reading programs that help kids avoid the summer slide.

Read aloud to your child. Struggling readers, even older ones, will improve listening comprehension skills and fluency by listening to you read aloud. Additionally, you can read books to your child that are above his or her current reading level which will help increase your child's vocabulary and tempo, both of which will support your child's independent reading skills and help prevent the summer slide.

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