Our summer wish for every child is a season of fearless discovery and joyful learning. Ninety-nine percent of parents agree that their child should be reading over the summer, but finding creative ways to engage kids in summer learning can feel daunting. (Almost as daunting as answering that age-old question “what’s for dinner?”) LitWorld is here to help! Today we’re talking all about the “LitLoop” and sharing some tips for integrating meaningful learning into your summer routine. The LitLoop (literacy loop) is a term we created to highlight literacy as a continuous cycle of reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Reading and listening are like breathing in; writing and speaking are like breathing out. We breathe in new ideas and stories, and breathe out our own thoughts and opinions in response. Here are some tips to make the LitLoop work for you this summer.
Start with your child’s strengths.
Plan activities that affirm your child’s strengths. Matching skills that your child feels comfortable using with those that may not come as naturally is a great way to build confidence to explore all components of the LitLoop. If your child is an avid reader but expresses anxiety about speaking, embrace this by planning a speaking activity that draws on their expertise as a reader. A book club with family or friends where the discussion component centers on a book your child loved will put her at ease knowing that the topic at hand is something she cares about. Maybe your child loves to talk, but has trouble with listening. Have him write out questions and interview a family member so that he gets to take turns speaking and listening, all while learning about someone he cares about.
Never underestimate the power of the read aloud.
Read alouds are like a perfectly balanced literary meal and pack a powerful academic punch. The read aloud builds strong reading, writing, listening and speaking muscles, and creates a reading community for your family at the same time. Before, during, and after reading, ask your child open-ended questions based on the cover, illustrations, and events that happen in the story. Some examples that will allow your child to connect to the text include:
Based on the cover, what do you think this story might be about?
How do you think the main character is feeling right now? Was there ever a time that you also felt this way?
What do you think is going to happen next?
Writing can easily be incorporated here through a “stop and jot,” where your child can take a minute or two to write down their answers to some of your open ended questions, or stick post-it notes to a page with thoughts you want to revisit after the book is over. Mix things up and switch off reading pages so that your child can practice reading and listening as you share a story with each other.
Take the LitLoop with you.
Summer learning can happen anywhere, and should flow from your child’s own curiosities and passions. When you leave the house, make it a habit to pack a notebook so that your child can write down everything he notices, smells, sees, and wonders about. Young children who are not writing independently yet can illustrate. Another fun idea is to buy a disposable camera and empower your child to take photos of whatever feels moving or important during the day. Let her find a creative way to display and share the story of her summer - a scrapbook, a blog post, a slideshow, anything goes. Summer excursions are also a great opportunity to read nonfiction together to add layers to an outdoor hike or a museum experience. Wildflower books make walking a scavenger hunt. Books about ancient Egypt bring mummies (back) to life. Let your child become an expert in a field of his choice.
We hope these tips inspire you to go forth and add some serious joy to your summer learning adventures. Keeping children engaged in the LitLoop over the summer will allow them do the most important work of all: tell their own stories!