By Andy, IvyWise Master Tutor
Summer is a time to decompress, rejuvenate, and recenter with friends, family, and outdoor activities. It’s also a time to look ahead to the start of the school year, but often many students don’t start to think about the next semester until it’s looming just around the corner. Summer reading is a great tool to not only keep students engaged throughout the entirety of the school break but also as a last-minute back-to-school prep tool to plan for success in the weeks ahead. It’s easy to overlook summer reading during the time off, but it’s important for students to understand the benefits of summer and outside reading and take steps to make reading part of their everyday routines.
Why Summer Reading Matters
For many students, developing healthy outside reading habits helps to combat summer loss and provides a foundation for literacy and academic success in the school year to follow. It also fosters a love for reading and the experience a student has when they pick up a book.
Reading, in general, is highly effective at building up a student’s knowledge in a vast array of subject areas including English, math, science, and history. Even studies discovered greater intellectual progress in vocabulary, spelling, and math than that of a student not reading more than the required school amount. Reading is a strong tool for growing comprehension skills and general knowledge of the world. Because of this, students who read can stay ahead of their classmates during the school year.
Summer and outside reading can also help students improve a variety of skills including:
- Literacy Skills: Increased time reading can improve reading, writing, and spelling abilities, cultivate larger vocabularies, and develop an understanding of complex grammatical structures.
- Comprehension: Research suggests that voluntary summer reading, which should include oral readings at home with family members and the use of comprehension strategies during independent reading, are effective strategies for improving reading achievement among lower-performing students. Participating in voluntary summer reading opportunities can also result in improved reading skills, motivation, confidence, and enjoyment.
- Memory Skills: Summer reading can help students better comprehend and retain what they read. Summer reading is also important for students to help preserve knowledge and critical thinking skills learned the previous school year while setting themselves up for success in the coming year. Students who do not read are at risk of falling behind their classmates. Parents and teachers can avoid this by making sure students take/make time to read. Just like exercise keeps muscles in shape, reading helps to keep the brain in shape. If you do not exercise, you lose muscle, and if you do not read, you will lose both literacy and retention skills.
- Test Scores: Research shows that students who actively participate in summer reading programs scored higher on reading achievement and standardized tests at the beginning of the next school year than their peers who did not participate, demonstrating flexible memory techniques.
How to Cultivate a Love for Summer Reading
Reading over the summer should not be a suggestion that keeps students busy; it is a critical requirement to help students stay on track for their entire educational career and beyond. Research shows that with so many other activities competing for their attention, like video games, TV, streaming services, and the internet, a lack of interest in reading for kids is a significant problem today. If children do not develop a natural passion for reading, it can lead to unnecessary challenges or difficulties later in their studies.
This becomes especially true when it comes time to begin drafting college application essays. Both the personal statement and supplemental essays require that students reflect on the most impactful aspects of their life. Completing this aspect of the college admissions process requires a high level of literacy and awareness, as putting into words what inspires or motivates you is easier said than done. However, by refining their writing and literacy skills, students can set themselves up for success when it comes time to apply to their best-fit college.
Strategies to foster a love of reading and encourage more outside reading as part of students’ regular routine include:
- Taking trips to the public library
- Ordering from school book clubs or book fairs
- Taking books on road trips or vacations
- Limiting screen time
- Finding new book series
- Purposefully making reading part of the summertime daily routine
Reading is a critical college pep tool, and just like with anything else – practice makes perfect! The more you read the more your reading skills will improve, setting you up for success with your test prep, school work, and college prep. At IvyWise, we work with students to help them improve their reading comprehension skills as well as develop a love of outside reading. If you’re struggling with your reading skills, our team of expert tutors can help set you on the right path. Contact us today for more information on our tutoring and test prep services.