Summer is just about to kick off and students are preparing to sleep late, hang out with friends, complain about being bored and forget that there is such a thing as school. That list may be a little different for students at the secondary level. Many districts, long ago threw a wrench into the summer plans of high school students – the summer reading list. They figured, with all that time on their hands that students could pick up a few good books and wouldn’t have to slog through them while school was in session. It’s actually a good idea unless you are the student having to do the reading.
I happen to support the idea of summer reading lists wholeheartedly, but maybe not for the reasons you think. My philosophy is that to get stronger, you have to work your muscles harder than required to get through a normal day. The same concept holds true for getting smarter. If I only worked out for nine months out of the year and took summers off to lay on the beach, eat anything I wanted and sip on frosty beverages all day, what do you think I would look like by fall? Another thing to consider is how difficult it would be to get back into the shape of the previous spring… The summer reading list can serve as a light workout for the student over the summer months. They will not be ready to run a marathon when school starts up again in the fall but they may be able to hold their own for a mile or two.
So, what if your child is in an elementary or middle school that does not require summer reading? That is where I suggest some creative parenting. Find out what kinds of things your child will be required to read next fall and spring in their courses. Even if you cannot locate the exact reading materials, having them read something similar can start them out ahead of the game when schoolhouse doors open again. How do you make sure they are reading the books you set in front of them? That is where a bit of work may begin for the parent. Remember, my focus is maintaining study habits as well as getting ahead. Reading the book along with your child is a very good idea. A chapter or two a day and a short discussion about those chapters will make for good dinner conversation and give you something to talk about with your preteen at a time when kids typically talk to their parents less and less. It may require 10 or 15 more minutes a day on your part, but I am absolutely sure that your child is worth that time commitment. Help them keep those study habits sharp and give them an edge this fall by reading along with them this summer and talking about what you read.