Monday, May 07, 2012

Summer Reading for Kids 2012: Questions to ask your child's teacher

May has barely begun and I've already started to see status updates of Facebook friends whose children have just a few short weeks left in their school year.  For my children, it's closer to 5 weeks left of school and then summer officially begins.  My kids know they won't get to slack all summer because I'll be hauling them to the library a lot for books. 

We always sign up for the library's summer reading program and we typically try to participate in other reading programs (HEBuddy, Barnes & Noble, and now-bankrupt Borders) just to maximize our summer reading fun.  As your kids grow into stronger readers, they definitely develop their own taste for books.  As a parent, you want to keep your children on track over the summer months, while balancing their likes and dislikes with age appropriate material. Your child's teacher is an excellent resource in helping you choose titles for your child to read over the summer.  So be sure to....

Meet with the teacher one last time!  Or email them.  Whichever fits into your schedules best.  This is key because you may not have ready access to those questions you wished you'd have asked the teacher during the hustle and bustle of the last days of school.  Ask your child's teacher about these key things:

1.  What is their Reading Level?  If it's not on target with the grade they have finished/will be entering, consider some extra reading help this summer.  This also helps you figure out what types of books your child should be reading, as your library may mark the reading level on the spine, like mine does. 

2.  Does my child have a particular interest?  Remember, kids act differently at home than at school, and your child's classroom likely has a wider variety of books than you do at home.  Your child's teacher may be able to point you in the direction of a theme to carry out over the summer vacation.  For instance, if they mention that your child is attracted to science and loved a unit about magnets, you can plan to select some science related books to add to your child's summer reading list.

3.  Did my child struggle with a particular topic?  Summer is an excellent time for one-on-one instruction to help them overcome any learning lags that your child's teacher may have noticed.  If your child had trouble with learning the standards of learning material for the Revolutionary War, for example, choosing a book on the topic might help cement what was learned, as well as fill in the cracks of concepts they didn't grasp in class.

4.  Can you suggest some age appropriate titles?  Your child's teacher knows a lot about children's books and may be able to suggest series to you.  They can usually provide you with a few authors names or series that children your child's age are interested in.  Plus, if you have an advanced reader, they may be able to direct you to more advanced material that your child can handle. 

5.  Is there a reading list that is available?  Some schools provide a list of suggested titles (for example, Accelerated Reader titles) that can help direct parents toward books of interest, depending upon a child's grade level and reading ability.  If your school doesn't provide a list, you can also try Accelerated Reader's site and search Collections by State to find titles for your child to read. If your child's school does AR, you will want your child to be reading books that earn them points.  You can also search by Reading Level on the AR site.  Check out their parent's guide for further assistance.
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