We know from extensive research that without continued reading in the summer, students fall back in their reading achievement. The good news is that the latest research shows students who read at least 4 books over the summer maintain or even increase their skills. Reading is a skill that improves each time we read to understand a book. The more you read, the better reader you become. But we live in a world dominated by technology which fights with the idea of down time to just be. Research shows the reading we do on a device is a different experience from a book that we read and hold in our hands.
For good reason, parents worry about how much time children spend with technology. Obsessive screen time is harmful for children and parents but parents suffer from something called ‘continuous partial attention’, a condition named 20 years ago by technology expert Linda Stone. Partial attention brings about conversations that lack the emotional cueing system whose hallmark is responsive communication, the basis of most human learning. Vocabulary, which is learned in conversation, is the linchpin to literacy.
Here are some simple suggestions to combat the burden of obsessive technology
* Eliminate excessive phone checking
* You and your phone are not tied to the hip—leave the phone behind if you want to have a quality interaction with your child, a friend, a mate, a colleague.
* A phone on silent is an instant vacation from the tyranny of being available 24/7.
Conversations are important ways we make the vital connection all human beings need. These all important conversations, where children learn vocabulary as they learn how to think and communicate, happen quite naturally by reading and talking about a story. We could all benefit by having some time sitting on a front porch swing and really being present.
Some tips about summer time reading
• Ramp up the “pleasure principle” in reading and love of story.
• Increase the time you read aloud and talk with children about what they read. Children who talk about a story have better comprehension skills, which build their confidence as readers. Children need confidence to enjoy reading.
• SLOW DOWN: get off the literary stair master. I would rather your children read fewer books, know and love them well, than read many books they don’t really like or even remember.
• Audio books are terrific—and they build vocabulary and instill a love of story.
• Set an example and follow your good advice: Read more this summer and enjoy what you read.