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5 Fun Ways To Help Your Struggling Reader This Summer


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Written by Shawna Wingert of Not the Former Things.

When my son was in school, the summer slide was a hot topic this time of year. Teachers sent home information packets. Moms talked about it in the pick-up area. Even my son asked me what we should do about it.

The dreaded “summer slide” was legendary.

Now that we homeschool, our school year is not a traditional one.

We learn all year long and take breaks when we need them (or life requires it). There is no summer slide to accommodate.

The change in weather does, however, bring opportunities to learn in different and fun ways. This fact has been and continues to be particularly true for my struggling reader.

Because he spends so much time in the necessary, consistent practice required to develop phonemic awareness and reading fluency, changing it up a bit makes summer learning so much more fun.

5 Fun Ways To Help Your Struggling Reader This Summer

With that in mind, here are my favorite ways to celebrate summer and help my struggling reader.

Water Balloon Flashcards

Water balloon flashcards made up our favorite reading activity last summer. When practicing sight words or spelling lists, we made water balloons – one for each word. Then, as my son read them, he threw them at a target. Or me. Or his brother.

We also reversed it. My son spelled a word aloud and then ran away, trying to dodge the water balloon thrown at him. (He prefers to be the target.)

Add Movement

Summer is the perfect time to incorporate movement into learning. We use our trampoline for read- alouds and math practice. He bounces while I read, or jumps as he recites times tables. Sometimes, we add water balloons to the mix. He bounces them up and down, and I sit happily in a lawn chair, with a sweet tea, reading to him.

The more he moves, the more I relax. It’s a summer win for both of us!

Get Messy

The best part about summer is my easy and frequent use of the hose.

Summer is the time of year when my son is free to make as many messes as possible. It is also when I try to incorporate these messes into our learning.

Writing in finger paint on the ground and windows, making our own clay tablets and craving sight words into them, and using water guns to “shoot” the sidewalk chalk sentences – it can all be cleaned up in a matter of minutes with the hose.

Combine Audiobooks and Fire Pits

We started this tradition last summer. A few nights a week, we light a fire in our fire pit, make smores and turn on an audiobook We relax, listen to the story, eat too much sugar and gaze at the stars.

Audiobooks are a wonderful option for my struggling reader, plus this has become one of my favorite summer memories.

Relax and Enjoy Your Kid!

More than anything else, one of the best things I think we can do for our struggling readers is relax and allow them to enjoy the summer. Sometimes, this means incorporating learning. Sometimes, I think it means letting them play without any expectation of reading.

They have the rest of their childhood to progress in reading. Summer should be fun, first!

Do you change up reading practice for your child in the summer months? Share your fun ideas!

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Author profile

Shawna Wingert is a special education teacher turned writer, speaker and consultant. She is also a homeschooling mom of two brilliant boys with differences and special needs. Shawna has written four books for parents of special needs – Everyday Autism, Special Education at Home, Parenting Chaos and her latest, Homeschooling Your Child With Special Needs. She has also been featured in special needs discussions on Today.com, The Mighty, The Huffington Post and Autism Speaks. You can find her online at DifferentByDesignLearning.com. You can follow Shawna and Different By Design Learning on Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram.

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