Summer Learning Loss
Summer learning loss is the decline in academic skills and knowledge over the course of the summer holidays. While not a common theme for discussion in New Zealand, it has been the subject of much research in overseas settings. The decline in learning varies between age levels and subjects. A common finding across numerous studies is that, on average, students scored lower in mathematics and reading tests at the end of the summer holidays than they had on the same tests administered prior to the holidays.
Recreational reading plays a key role in maintaining literacy skills. Parental encouragement and role modelling of regular reading during the holidays is therefore important. Providing a range of different experiences, and opportunities to do ‘new’ things over the summer holidays, can also go a long way to alleviating summer learning loss.
"Adolescents entering the adult world in the 21st century will need to read and write more than at any other time in human history. They will need advanced levels of literacy to perform their jobs, run their households, act as citizens, and conduct their personal lives. They will need literacy to cope with the flood of information they will find everywhere they turn. They will need literacy to feed their imaginations, so they can create the world of the future. In a complex, and sometimes dangerous world, the ability to read can be crucial." — International Reading Association, (Moore et al, 1999, p. 3 as cited by Clark & Rumbold, 2006).
Ideas for engaging with your son and building reader relationships:
- Share a book with your son. No one is too old to be read to. Take turns reading a chapter.
- Talk to your son about reading. The most recent research suggests that a relationship around reading is more effective in encouraging students to read than just modelling the behaviour. Read aloud to your son. Discuss the book you are reading. Discuss your son’s reading book with him. Ask him questions.
- Share your reading life with your son - the questions you have while reading, how you select something to read, why you sometimes do not finish a text, why you sometimes re-read a text, troubles you have had with reading, the strategies you find helpful as a reader, what you are learning or have learned from reading.
- Know your audience - expand your knowledge of what your son is reading. Make recommendations and accept recommendations from him. Challenge yourself to read some teen fiction. When was the last time you visited the public library? Are you familiar with the books they have available? How many of them have you read?
Reading for Pleasure
Aside from the sheer joy of exercising the imagination, research shows that reading for pleasure improves literacy, social skills, health, and learning outcomes.
It gives people access to culture and heritage and empowers them to become active citizens, who can contribute to economic and social development.