Have children read to avoid summer ‘slide’

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With summer flying by we encourage students along with their parents or guardians to make the most of the next five weeks or so that are left before school bells ring.

Many children often experience what education experts have termed the “summer slide”. This is the tendency for students, especially those from low-income families, to lose some of the achievement gains they made during the previous year.

A number of local children have attended various educational summer camps organized by schools, such as the Read to Succeed Summer Reading Camps the South Carolina Department of Education funded throughout the state. Local organizations also hosted camps, such as the STEM camp put on by the Dreams, Imagination & Gift (DIG) Development Program in Williston.

However, even if your child did not attend a camp, there are activities they can do at home that will keep their brains active and engaged until school starts back. We know summer is a busy time of traveling, camps, family reunions and other activities, but Scholastic magazine offers three suggestions to fit into even the busiest schedule while also making reading fun.

1. Six books to summer success: Research shows that reading just six books during the summer may keep a struggling reader from regressing. When choosing the six, be sure that they are just right — not too hard and not too easy. Take advantage of your local library. Ask for help selecting books that match your child’s age, interests, and abilities. Libraries often run summer reading programs that motivate kids to read, so find out what’s available in your area.

Barnwell District 45 is holding book giveaways for children in the community this month: July 13 at the Barnwell Arms Apartments, July 25 at the Barnwell County Family YMCA, and July 27 at Litchfield Apartments Recreation Building. Events are from 11 a.m. to noon. These are great opportunities for children to receive free books to help prevent the summer slide.

2. Read something every day: Encourage your child to take advantage of every opportunity to read. Find them throughout the day:

• Morning: The newspaper — even if it is just the comics or today’s weather.

• Daytime: Schedules, TV guides, magazines, online resources, etc. For example, if your daughter likes the food channel, help her look for a recipe on the network’s Web site — then cook it together for more reading practice.

• Evening: End the day by having your child read to you from the book he is currently reading (one of the six books, above). Have him rehearse a paragraph, page, or chapter before reading to you. Rereading will help him be more fluent — able to read at an appropriate speed, correctly, and with nice expression.

3. Keep reading aloud: Reading aloud benefits all children and teens, especially those who struggle. One benefit is that you can read books your child can’t, so she will build listening comprehension skills with grade-level and above books. This will increase her knowledge and expand her experience with text, so that she will do better when she reads on her own.

We also have a few additional suggestions, such as the Summer Reading Program at the Barnwell, Blackville and Williston libraries is another fantastic and fun way for children to learn. From a magic show, science program and hands-on activities, there are plenty of opportunities to learn and be exposed to new knowledge and experiences. We even learned a few things last week at the ecology lab’s presentation about animals at the Williston Library. Find out about remaining events on the Community Calendar (page 5B).

We encourage parents and guardians to not only encourage their children to do these, but also be involved. After all, children are more prone to stick with something and do it well if they know their parents care.

Be involved throughout the year, so you can stay informed, show your children you are interested in how they perform academically, and to keep up with their progress.

Taking a little time now can truly pay off in the long run. Just because we live in a small town doesn’t mean we can’t achieve great things. Just look at page 4B of this edition for examples of three Barnwell County natives who have gone on to accomplish great things.

Now is also a good time to check with your child’s school about how to prepare for the new school year. This includes required immunizations, supplies, registration dates and how to be an involved parent or guardian.

Find a list of upcoming back-to-school bashes and other events on page 5B. If you know of an event not listed, please let us know by emailing jonathan.vickery@morris.com.