By Emily Cohen
Summer marks the end of the busy school year and the start of beautiful weather. Unfortunately, it’s also the time when struggling readers fall further behind than their peers. Students lose on average a month of school learning over the summer, but it typically affects low-income students more than their higher-income peers. In fact, according to a 2007 study, “more than half of the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities. As a result, low-income youth are less likely to graduate from high school or enter college” (Alexander et al, 2007). Additionally, summer can disrupt regular reading routines that have been established by parents and caregivers. These routines are important to maintain in order to continue to build the pre-literacy skills necessary for reading readiness. We encourage families to continue to build on their love of books and reading over the summer without backtracking on their hard work establishing routines during the school year.
In order to address this concern, Raising A Reader MA (RAR MA) offers a series of workshops for parents of rising kindergarteners at the end of the school year. These workshops are designed to equip parents with the basic dialogic reading skills so that they may practice them over the summer. Once the school year commences in the fall, parents can attend a more in depth training where they further develop their story telling abilities. Often times these workshops consist of a smaller group of parents, allowing RAR MA staff to craft individual suggestions based on the specific challenges a parent has expressed about reading with their child.
Although many program partners cease to rotate books over the summer, we encourage families to continue to read regularly through series of summer story times in Chelsea, Revere, Malden, Everett, Lawrence, and Springfield. Even if families don’t have an extensive collection of books at home, through the story times, they will come to understand the importance of reading aloud and acquire the skills to do so. We partner with local libraries and encourage parents to access books through these libraries over the summer to keep their reading routine going. In addition, we invited state representatives and school leaders to join us for story times. Senator Sal DiDimenico will be our first guest reader for the kickoff event in Chelsea next week.
Our goal is to end the cycle of low literacy by helping families develop high impact home reading routines. Encouraging families to maintain these routines over the summer can help turn the summer learning gap into a summer learning gain.
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