Summer is just around the corner! What activities are you planning for your homeschooler? For most families, summer means time off from "official" homeschooling and enjoying more carefree days. Unfortunately, summer is also the time when a child forgets many of the reading skills learned during the school year. Studies prove that children who continue to read during the summer perform better the following school year. So what can you do to keep your child's nose in a book this summer? Here are a few strategies:

  1. Join a summer reading program - Most city libraries have summer reading programs for children. If yours doesn't, start your own. It's easy with these simple ideas:
    • Pick a fun theme (patriotism, sea creatures, flight, or any topic of interest to your child) and decorate your schoolroom
    • Establish an appropriate prize for the number of minutes read each week, month, and/or for the entire summer (younger children will also need a more immediate reward, such as stickers)
    • Set up monthly calendars for tracking your child's reading (click here)
    • Determine a daily minimum amount of reading time (see suggested times below)
    • Use a timer to help younger children measure reading time
    • Mark each day's reading on the calendar and reward with stickers or prize when complete
  2. Choose the right books - Finding books that appeal to your child is crucial to summer reading success. Incorporate the following guidelines in making your selections:
    • Look for different authors, topics, and themes in your reading selections. Include several types of books such as: biographies, adventure (Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea), historical fiction (Eye on History series), science fiction, poetry, and mysteries.
    • Find books that expose your child to multiple time periods - past, present, future. Inquisitive minds in grades 3-6 will love the exciting stories of the past in the fictional Sisters in Time Series and American Kids in History Series from Alpha Omega Publications®.
    • Include books which contain a variety of unforgettable characters.
    • Encourage your child to choose books that pursue his interests.
    • Choose books for good readers with a challenging reading level, or find books which can be read without difficulty for unenthusiastic readers.
    • Include illustrated or picture books in your selection, even for older children.
  3. Schedule time to read - With other summer activities competing for your child's attention, you must schedule in time during the day for your child's reading. Our family's favorite reading time was during the heat of the day, just after lunch. Although your homeschooler will probably want to read longer, here is a suggested list of minimum reading times:
    • Preschool - Read aloud to your child for at least 15 minutes per day
    • Beginning Readers - Alternate reading with your child for 15 minutes per day (the Early Reader Series and Reading Basics are great options for Kindergarten and 1st grade students)
    • Early Readers (2nd grade) - 15-30 minutes per day
    • 3rd - 4th Grade - 30 minutes per day
    • 5th - 8th Grade - 1 hour per day
  4. Combine summer activities with books - Here are a few suggestions. Be creative and add your own ideas to the following list:
    • Planning a summer vacation to a different state? Have your child read books about the state's history and attractions. While traveling, encourage your child to read with maps, road signs, and billboards.
    • Cooking a favorite summer treat? Let your child read the recipe while you prepare the food together.
    • Watching a Christian film? Have your child read the book on which the film was based.
    • Going to a major sports event? Let your child read a magazine article or biography on his favorite team player.
  5. Subscribe to magazines in your child's name - Children love getting mail and what better way to spark their reading skills than with children's magazines and periodicals that capture their interest. (Our children loved to read nature and travel magazines.)
Remember, parents set the tone for their child's attitude toward summer reading. When your child sees you reading during the summer, he learns reading is fun. So be a good example. Pack your own book in the beach bag, picnic basket, or in your purse (for those times when you find yourself waiting at appointments or in the car). Being a homeschooling family that values reading will benefit your children all year long.