During the summer months, young children lose literacy gains made during the school year, a phenomenon known as “summer slide.” The most important thing teachers can do to reverse this trend is to help families adopt family literacy routines and promote opportunities for families to talk, read, and write together throughout the school year. Some suggestions include:
Get families interested in literacy. Share samples of children’s work and emerging literacy skills. Inform families about topics their children enjoy talking, reading, and writing about.
Promote at-home literacy. Send your students home with ideas such as “Dear Family, At school we are learning about animals. Can we talk/read/write about my favorite animal?”
Host a literacy event. Set up stations that engage families and children in a topic of interest. The topic of “Pets” might include books about pets, a small visiting pet to observe, materials for drawing and writing about a favorite pet, and brochures from a local pet store.
Connect families to literacy resources. Visit the local library for information about available programs and services. Encourage families to obtain library cards and suggest good books.
Start a classroom lending library. Solicit book donations and invite families to check out their children’s favorite books. Provide suggestions on interacting with children during the reading.
This article was updated in May, 2021. It originally appeared in Language Magazine in April, 2017. At the time, Cindy Hoisington was an Early Literacy Specialist at the Education Development Center (www.edc.org).