In the first 15 tips of this Tip-a-Day series, my goal was to provide some over-arching “getting started” guidelines to help parents take an active role in supporting their children’s reading over the summer. As my husband recently reminded me, however, my plan was to write “super brief tips” that are “just a few sentences” — and I haven’t been able to stick to that at all (brevity in my writing is not in my blood). With the assumption that “less is more” given parents’ busy lives, I am going to aim now to write “tiny tips” with simple ideas and recommendations for encouraging reading and writing over the summer. I am going to try hard to write “just a few sentences”! Here goes…
Before you leave for your vacation, and ideally several days before you even start to pack, talk with your kids about everyone’s plans for reading and writing while away. Approach the conversation so that you communicate that reading (and possibly writing) is a given — a welcomed and integral part of your travel that requires planning just as do other parts of your trip. Four things to consider with your kids when you talk about your reading plans include:
- How frequently will the kids aim to read while away?
- Would it be helpful to try to find a ritualized time to read? If you have such rituals at home, do you think they will work on vacation, or is it likely that different times will be better? How can you make time for it? For example, will nighttime work, or does it make more sense to aim for early morning reading, or reading for the first 20 minutes upon arrival at the pool?
- Will kids plan to do any writing while away? Brainstorm together ways that kids might tie in the vacation with writing, such as by keeping a trip journal, writing a fictional story related to an aspect of the trip, or writing an old-fashioned postcard.
- What are YOUR plans for reading over vacation? Parents, share these with your kids. If you don’t expect kids to take a break from reading, model for them that you aren’t going to either!
The power of talk is tremendous, as it helps to form expectations that result in actions. For many kids, books are likely to stay in suitcases if there is no dialogue and no expectation for summer reading while traveling. In contrast, when vacation reading is talked about and planned for, and hence expected and occurs, kids further internalize that reading is part of everyday summer life — a core belief to nurture if we are to build lifelong readers!