At the end of the school year, school districts distributed the summer reading lists for middle and high school students with a requirement of many to read two books. Students certainly have expressed their “dislike” for being forced to do work over the summer; we have been privy to the comments as we know you probably have as well.
However, the evidence behind the requirement is clear: research has shown that summer vacation can result in a loss of one to three months worth of learning if students do not engage in activities to maintain their skills. Some students choose to tackle the books right away while others tend to procrastinate until the end of summer.
Regardless of your child’s approach, we have compiled a list of strategies students can implement to self-monitor their comprehension and ensure they are adequately prepared for the assignment when they return in September.
- Set the scene – research the book(s) your child has selected. If the book is historical fiction, activate prior knowledge by tapping into what your child already knows about the subject. Reading background information and perusing through images on the Internet will familiarize him/herself with the setting of the novel and increase understanding of an unfamiliar topic.
- Actively read – encourage your child to make predictions, formulate questions while reading or jot down any unfamiliar vocabulary words to retain information about the novel.
- Note taking – have a notebook set aside to record the main events of each chapter. Children can summarize the chapter using bullet points or by writing a paragraph.
- Character Analysis – find a section in the notebook to list information about the main characters. How does the author characterize each person? What are they like? How do they act?
- Engage in discussion – read the book your child is reading and discuss various aspects of the novel with him/her. A dialogue is a great way to assess comprehension, analyze a character, or discuss a prevalent theme.
- Read aloud – take turns reading aloud. It’s an easy way to spend time with your child while modeling good reading fluency.
- Invest in an E-Reader- as technology changes by the minute, there are a variety of e-Readers available. Children embrace technology and love gadgets! They may find an increased interest in reading with one of these tools (and it is the perfect solution for the disorganized child who frequently loses materials).
- Watch the movie – after your child has read the book, see if there is a movie that has been made. Ask your child to look for similarities between the novel and the movie.
— This article was written by Jason Kunka, a local high school teacher and founder of JKS Education, which offers customized in-home tutoring for elementary and secondary school kids.