It is well documented that there is a significant loss in learning that occurs during summer months for students who do not read. This phenomenon has been called by a variety of names: “summer slide,” “summer setback,” “summer shortfall,” “summer reading loss.” Whatever the name, the research clearly shows that students who don’t read during the summer begin school the following fall at a significant disadvantage compared with students who read when school is not in session.
In order to encourage summer reading, the Kensington School Site Council, in conjunction with the Kensington faculty, sponsors a program every year: “Kensington Never Stops Reading.” Our goal is to encourage students to read for at least twenty minutes every day during the summer break. You will be hearing more about this program in the next few weeks as we solicit books to distribute to our students during the last week of school.
In addition to encouraging students to read every day during the summer, I’m hoping to encourage you to have your child write every day as well. Our students are used to writing daily at school, and many of them are able to write for 30-40 minutes without interruption. They have been building their “writing muscles” all year, and as with anything that is practiced daily, they have increased their stamina since the beginning of the year. They have learned to write about topics of interest to them, and have learned to write information, narrative, and opinion pieces.
Summer provides so many opportunities for writing! Kids can write letters to friends they meet at camp. They can keep a travel journal to document trips you take. They can look at a place they visit through “poets’ eyes” and write a poem. They can write a “small moment” narrative about something that happens during a family excursion. I still remember the student, a number of years ago, who came back from a family trip to Disneyland, and announced that his weekend was “full of small moments” that he could write about!
When my own children were young, the first weekend after school ended always included a trip to a bookstore and to the library to load up on books for summer reading. If my kids were young now, I think I would suggest getting a journal or notebook as well to provide a space for summer writing! And just as we model reading for our children, perhaps you, too, will enjoy setting aside time during the long summer days to write with your children. Sharing your writing with each other can be a great way to spend some time this summer.