NEWBERRY — Did you know that most students lose about two months of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation skills over the summer months?
In an article provided by the National Summer Learning Association, research also shows that students also lose more than two months in reading achievement when not actively engaged throughout their summer vacations.
Research spanning 100 years shows that students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do on the same tests at the beginning of the summer, the article states.
Tim Lyden, principal at Prosperity-Rikard Elementary School, agrees that because simple tasks like reading are a part of our everyday lives, it is especially important that students continue to read throughout their summer vacations.
“From reading signs around us, to playing video games, or even just trying to order lunch at a restaurant, reading is important,” Lyden said. “Just like any skill, if you do not practice that skill you tend to lose your accuracy and your expertise. Athletes and musicians need to practice daily to hone their skills. Reading is no different.”
At Prosperity Rikard, Lyden said they have incentives for students to keep up with their learning during the summer. The school is a part of a grant through the State Department of Education that provides each student with seven books for the summer to add to their home collections.
“This is the third year we have been involved with this so some of the students have gathered a good collection of books,” Lyden said.
So what is Lyden’s advice for students of all ages this summer?
“Read, read, read,” he said.
While driving, Lyden suggests parents having their children read the road signs and marquees they see along the way. From a writing standpoint, have parents and their children created a journal with daily summer activities.
“It becomes a memory of the summer and keeps that practice in action each day,” Lyden said.
Another helpful tip Lyden suggests to parents is to talk with children about topics that appear on the news or even television shows, as this helps with comprehension, another aspect to reading.
Principal Deedee Westwood at Mid-Carolina Middle School said that MCMS provides several options and incentives to get their students reading over the summer.
Like other schools in the district, MCMS offers a grade for students to participate in a summer reading program. Westwood said that any parent could locate the summer reading brochure through the Newberry County School District website. They were also sent home with each child at the end of the school year.
The brochures were created for elementary, middle, and high school students, giving recommendations for summer reading and students’ choice of how to produce a product to be assessed once turned in at the beginning of the school year.
“The first grade of the new school year! Who wouldn’t want to start out with a good grade?,” Westwood said.
Many schools Westwood said, including MCMS allow students who have difficulty locating books on the summer reading list, to check them out over the summer. The Newberry County Public Library makes sure to have books that the school lists for summer reading available for students, Westwood said.
“Reading novels helps promote fluency and proficiency in reading but even magazines, newspapers or other reading materials help provide a certain volume of reading for students,” Westwood said.
Westwood’s advice for students this summer is to read for pleasure, whether that be in a car, on a plane, or at the beach. “I find at the middle school that many students slow down or even stop reading outside of the classroom, and especially over the summer,” she said.
Other ways to learn Westwood said can be through summer camps, Internet educational games, or visiting museums. “Athletic camps get the juices flowing better than the couch,” she said.
Westwood said research has proven that a students’ soci0-economic status means that some may have more access to books during the summer, but to remember the public library was free to enjoy.
The Reach out and Read program created a list of several tips to encourage young readers this summer:
• Subscribe to children’s magazines to inspire reading. Bring the magazines to the beach or park to enjoy while relaxing.
• Visit a local farmer’s market or grocery store (There are several in Newberry county) and choose some new seasonal fruits and vegetables to try. Pair your snack with some books on healthy eating and nutrition.
• Read a travel guide together with your child to help plan an actual (or dream) vacation.
• Join your local library. Many local librarians sponsor summer reading programs.
• Get out and explore! Go for a hike, visit a museum, walk in the city, or pick your own flowers. Have your child write about all of your summer adventures in a journal.
“We as adults need to set the example for our children and take an everyday interest in how they are learning and what they are learning. Education is not just a school initiative,” Lyden said. “It takes parents, teachers, students and the community working together to give the children opportunities for success.”