Oh the joys of summer! Swimming pools, BBQs and ball games fill the days so quickly! As a teacher, I treasure summer break. I love the time with my own kids and a break from the constant demands of school.
However, as both a teacher and a parent, I dread the summer regression. It happens every year, and for a certain extent, it happens for the majority of children. We pay for that fun break in August when we go back and have to reteach some of the previous year’s material.
So, how do you keep that from happening to your child?
READ. READ. READ.
I don’t mean just reading words on paper. I mean talking about the stories as you are reading. Encourage deep analytical thinking with your kids. For example, ask questions like
“Why do you think the author chose to tell us that now?” (foreshadowing)
“When the character did _____, what does that tell us about her?” (Character development)
“Why do you think the author chose to write this story? Is there a lesson to be learned or is it just for entertainment?” (Author’s purpose)
“Were there any new words you learned reading this story? How did you know what they meant?” (Using context to find meaning)
Model this deep thinking for your kids when you are reading so they know exactly how to answer those questions.
“Wow, I really think_____, because when I read _____, it made me think____.” That last example is called “citing textual evidence” and it is a very difficult concept for so many kids. They are to develop an opinion on something and then go back in the text to retrieve information that made them feel a certain way and THEN explain why that information made them feel that way. It can be done very informally but it really gets kids to thinking about how and why they form certain opinions about things.
I think about all the areas of their life in which that level of metacognition (thinking about thinking) could come in handy. Think about the social situations that they may need to analyze whether or not they are falling to peer pressure, or if they have all the information they need to form their own opinion, and what more information they may need to come to their own conclusions! But, that is a soapbox for another day!
Reading is important, but reading is more than just words on paper. It’s a story, an idea that someone else had at one time. It’s a literary masterpiece, or a silly poem; it’s a piece of our history, a piece of someone else’s history, or a technical piece of writing to learn a new skill, it doesn’t matter. It all has a purpose. Ask questions and think deeply. Asking questions leads to a habit of curiosity. Curious people are people who are constantly seeking answers to their questions. People who seek answers all the time are life-long learners. Life-long learners don’t need a jumpstart because they never stopped learning to begin with.
Develop Life-Long Learners.
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