Summer has kicked off after another stretch of pandemic learning, leaving many parents wondering how to best handle summer. Sure, it couldn’t be more important to get the kids out of the home and away from the screens - but we all know that the extended lockdown may have us wondering if we should do more to support our kids’ learning.

There’s lots of good things happening in Canada right now - communities are starting to awaken with the reopening of restaurants, shops, and other amenities, including amusement parks, pools, and camps. Travel is slowly but surely coming back, and many families can even consider planning a road trip or a cottage visit. After the dramatic year it has been, should we be even thinking about pushing our kids to read and write more?

children play at a playground
Summer has arrived and it's important for kids to be outdoors as much as possible. Source: Unsplash.

The simple answer is yes. Why? Kids lose so much learning over the summer, and with a whole year of constant changes we can only assume that the learning loss may be exceptional this year. Keeping our kids practicing their literacy skills can make a big difference in the school year ahead, especially as teachers will be focused on getting entire cohorts of kids up to speed with grade level curriculum. If your child is going into secondary school, getting additional literacy practice may be even more critical as they enter a new world of learning where independent research and literacy skills are a must-have.

So how can parents convince their kids to read during what may be one of the most exciting summers in a long time? Luckily, there are plenty of fun ways to help your child maintain their reading, writing, media, and oral communication skills - read on for our very best tips.

Summer is here and the pandemic school year is over. Find out how to keep your kids learning through outdoor learning.

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Why Literacy Skills are So Important

Literacy skills are life skills that people use every day, and that students use in nearly every subject. Science, Geography, History, and even Math require listening, speaking, and writing skills - you will have a hard time identifying a subject in which someone doesn’t need literacy skills to learn. We read texts on nearly every topic, show our learning through our written and spoken presentations, and listen to videos, lectures, and lessons to learn. Literacy skills are foundational, and when those skills are continually strengthened, you’ll see your child’s academic performance improve.

Being critically media literate has also come into view as one of the most important life skills one can have during the information age. We live in a world where everything is communicated in a digital context: news, healthcare, business, school all take place online, and require users to harness their media literacy skills to make sense of it all. With so much fake news, misinformation, and bias in the internet media, not being able to question and assess digital media content can have its consequences, from becoming a victim of scams to being influenced by the interests of different political groups. Support your child’s literacy development, and they will grow up to be well-rounded and knowledgeable citizens.

a child reads
Literacy development is so important. Source: Pexels

Finally, it’s important to note that an English credit in secondary school is a prerequisite to entering nearly every university and dozens of college programs. Ignoring your child’s literacy may close doors to their options later on, resulting in less choice when it comes to careers and jobs. While it may seem exhausting to push them in language arts over the summer, your investment will be worth the wait when they are older.

Now that we know why literacy is so important, let’s explore some fun, stress-free ways to bring language arts into your child’s everyday life.

Have your kids been affected by virtual learning? Learn our tips for supporting their social and emotional development.

The Best Ways to Support Your Child’s Literacy Skills this Summer

Get Your Child into Audiobooks

Have you got a reluctant reader at home? Audiobooks may be the answer to getting your child into a book. You can find audiobooks for thousands of kids, young adult, and teen books on platforms like Audible, Libby, Scribd, and Hoopla, where your child can simply hit play and plug into a book. Audiobooks are often read by celebrities or the authors themselves, taking the whole concept of reading to the next level. Audiobooks are great to listen to while walking, driving, or exercising, so if your child prefers to be active they are a great alternative to paper or digital books.

Audiobooks will help your child improve their listening skills and will get them thinking about characters, story, and plot. Your child will be exposed to new vocabulary, and may even find an auditory experience more engrossing than the actual book. If your child is in high school, audiobooks are a great way to get through some of the longer titles they must read for classes, and be prepared for class every day. Many audiobook streaming services have a free trial period, so give one a try and see how it changes your child’s view of reading!

Find the Right Camp or Summer School

Overnight and day camps are a popular activity for kids during summer when families need childcare or are looking to get their kids engaged with something new. While many camps focus on sports or outdoor learning, you might also look into finding a day camp that enables your child to practice literacy skills through fun, low stakes activities. Your child’s local school board may have some great options that focus on building numeracy and literacy with more fun and less structure; you may also be able to find a drama camp where kids can practice body language and oral communication.

kids at camp
Find the right summer camp for your child. Source: Unsplash
.

Hit the Bookstore or Library

As obvious as it may seem, taking your child to the bookstore or library can be the easiest and fun way to get your child excited about reading. Choosing books is a lot of fun, and kids can spend endless amounts of time browsing through different books. Public libraries often have other activities for kids: robotics, lego, crafting, and book clubs are just a few of the offerings they might have.

Local independent bookstores can also be a fun place to visit, though perhaps without all the activities of a public library. But there is something special about opening a brand new book, and fans of series like Dog Man and Diary of a Wimpy Kid can feel sure that they will always find the latest title. Many bookstores in cities are located near trendy retail strips or malls, so make a day out of your book trip with a visit to a cafe, park, or get some shopping done.

Read our latest article on how to keep your child practicing math all summer long.

Make Movies Together

Media literacy is a strand in every province’s Language Arts curriculum, and it is more important than ever to develop media creator skills. With so much of school online, many kids are asked to show their learning through digital products they can easily and quickly share. Why not spend some time making media for fun, and help your child become more proficient with apps along the way?

Challenge your child (and a sibling, friend, or cousin) to make a movie: script writing and collaboration is a whole exercise in communication itself. The same goes with using media tools: iMovie, Adobe Spark, or simply the editing tools on a phone can be enough to have tons of fun. Don’t just stop with movies: photo collages, podcasts, and animation are just a few other ways you can challenge your child to make media.

Hire a Literacy Tutor

If your concerns about your child’s learning are significant, one thing you can do to target their needs is to hire a tutor to engage your child with independent language study. A tutor is an excellent way to supplement your child’s summer learning as they will hold your child accountable to completing work and can provide specific instruction for their individual needs. Establish a learning plan and goals with your tutor: it might be writing with fewer grammar errors, reading more challenging books, or learning how to develop a presentation, or a combination of multiple goals. Set a timeline and a specific amount of sessions for the summer, and keep your child motivated through breaks and rewards.

Find out why summer learning is more important than ever for your child in 2021.

Tutoring can be more popular for younger grades.
Hire a literacy tutor for your child. Source: Pexels

Tutoring can be combined with a number of other summer activities you have planned. Organizing a tutor is easy through sites like Superprof, where you’ll find listings for local Language Arts tutors near you. The tutor can meet your child online, in a safe outdoor environment, or indoors at a library or even your home depending on your region’s public health restrictions.

Find a tutor on Superprof today and get your child’s summer learning started!

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Colleen

Colleen is a Toronto-based educator, mom and freelance writer who believes in lifelong learning and strong coffee.