Summertime – I know that it isn’t officially summer until June 20th at 11:32pm, but in my mind, it begins right after Memorial Day. For parents of school children, it is probably the end of the school year. So many unfortunate changes have taken place over the last year and a half that have impacted the lives of all of us in one way or another, but certainly on the children that could not fully understand what was happening in regards to school.
Spending a full year of no in-person learning for most public schools has been difficult for everyone. Teachers had to reconfigure lesson plans to fit into a tight schedule of virtual learning. Parents had to adjust to myriad changes while still making sure their children were getting an education. Students suddenly lacked a social learning situation which, for many, meant a lack of focus or not being present at all. In talking to some parents and teachers, the consensus was that, for a number of students, it was a lost year that will see them entering the next grade without having attained the lessons they needed to move forward.
A number of years ago, a friend suggested a volunteer opportunity, which after intensive training, would allow me to tutor students in elementary schools who were having difficulty in reading, writing and spelling. At the time, the program was in its infancy and called the Augustine Project. It is now Read, Write, Spell WS. I mention this as the training is excellent, a wonderful way to help students who benefit from one-on-one learning, a valuable volunteer opportunity and an excellent tool to use if your grandchildren are having trouble in any or all of these areas. The first child I tutored went from sitting there silently, angry from being pulled out of class to, when figuring out I was not going to give up on him, becoming proficient in reading, writing and spelling. He not only excelled in English, but according to his teacher, was more engaged in his other subjects and always had a chapter book to read during down time.
Reading is so very important. As a child, my bedtime routine always included reading a story. My grandchildren are also beneficiaries of that concept. Books are numerous in all of the households. Before they could read on their own, I loved when they crawled up next to me and handed me a book or books to read to them. I loved it even more when they were first learning to read and read to me. My five-year-old grandson seeing his older sister read is now an amazing reader. My barely five-year-old granddaughter loves to be read chapter books and can already read several words. Reading will give them a step up when they enter kindergarten this fall.
Children love gadgets. One tool I gave each of my daughter’s families was a Leap Frog pen and some books that went with it. The pen read each word in the book as the child slid the pen across it. Having something in their hand gave them a feeling of control in the learning process. Seeing the word, how it is spelled and hearing the pronunciation is very helpful. I also noticed that they were picking up words and remembering them when they saw them in different places.
This summer, after the strange and abbreviated school year, when there is quiet time with your grandchildren, sit and read. It will be one of the best gifts you will give them. It will also bring you joy when you see the pride in their faces as they read to you.
“The simplest way to make sure that we raise literate children is to show them that reading is a pleasurable activity.” ~ Neil Gaiman
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