School is out for the summer, and both teachers and students are thrilled, but parents can get a little overwhelmed with keeping their children entertained all summer and worrying about the dreaded summer slide. According to the Colorado Department of Education, the “Summer slide” is the tendency for students, especially those from low-income families, to lose some of the achievement gains they made during the previous school year.” Even for children from more prominent families, being out of school for the summer can mean less access to materials and/or to someone who will help provide meaningful and quality instruction. Parents who work a lot may not be able to sit with children to complete their summer reading, and it could mean fewer trips to the bookstore or library.
For nonnative English speakers, being home for the summer often means children are being spoken to and are responding solely in their native language, which makes it harder to keep up with what they have learned in English. In this case, reading English books over the summer is even more important. ESL children, especially those who are novice speakers, benefit greatly from reading English texts. In ELLs and Reading Fluency in English, Karen Ford points out, “As students practice reading English text…they are gaining valuable information about the sounds and cadences of spoken English, and they are also developing vocabulary skills that can contribute to oral language fluency, as well as reading and listening comprehension.” Studies show that kids who read over the summer can beat the summer slide.
Find audio books for your children to read/listen to. There are tons of picture book read-alouds on Youtube. Even some middle grades texts are read aloud by teachers and other native speakers on Youtube. One quick note here…have the text visible. Either purchase a book for your child to read while he/she listens or find the PDF online. Just make it your mission to find audiobooks that your child can listen to while he/she is reading also. Leapfrog and other devices can help with little ones, and apps like Epic are also great for elementary students. It goes without saying, Amazon can be your best friend when it comes to getting books.
Do not be afraid to let your child watch movies in English! Find your child’s favorite movie in your native language, and then put it on in English. You can choose whether or not to use subtitles.
Listen to English music. Nursery rhymes are great for the younger ages, but they also work for upper elementary aged kids. The children will better understand what is happening in the song if they already know it in their native language. Songs like “Head Shoulders Knees and Toes” have familiar beats in multiple languages.
Make play dates with native speakers! Go to the movies, theater, concerts or other outings where there will surely be lots of English being spoken or sung. Check out local papers for free events put on by different venues.
Sign your child up for camp. There are lots of free options, including local Bible Schools. Camps are a great way to give your child the English input they need, and to help your child make native English-speaking friends.
If finances allow it, find a tutor for your child for the summer. It doesn’t have to be someone who is qualified to teach English, although this is very beneficial. It could be a native speaker that will immerse your child in the language and require that they practice speaking.
What if you are the kind of parent that fortunately does have the time and you want to do a little more for your child? Reading Rockets is a wonderful site that offers lots of great tips. Online sites like Etsy and Teachers Pay Teachers usually have premade lessons and/or materials. Whether you are able to work with your child daily or not, there are multiple programs that you can purchase and possibly, your child’s school already has a subscription. IXL, Accelerated Reader, Rosetta Stone, and Duolingo are just a few.
With all of the different options out there, you are bound to find something that works for your family. The most important thing is that your child be immersed in native level listening activities and that they also have the opportunity to read quality English books. Following a few of these tips will help you prevent your child from the dreaded summer slide.