Kids and parents around Australia usually greet the long summer holiday break with enthusiasm.
It’s great to get out of the routine of school… No more spelling lists, Maths Mentals and nightly readers…
But experts tell us that for many children, the ‘summer reading slump’ can actually be reversed if kids get the chance to practice their reading when they’re not at school.
A three-year study conducted by Professor Richard Allington and Professor Anne McGill-Franzen from the University of Tennessee has shown that kids who received books and read at home during the summer showed a significantly higher level of reading achievement than those who did not.
Professor Allington compares the ‘summer slide’ in a child’s reading ability to an athlete’s fitness.
“Just like hockey players lose some of their skills if they stay off their skates and off the ice for three months, children who do not read in the summer lose two to three months of reading development,” Allington said.
“This creates a three to four month gap every year. Every two or three years the kids who don’t read in the summer fall a year behind the kids who do.”
Australian educators have noticed similar trends, and with the popularity of portable screens and smartphones, the need to support children’s reading in the holidays has become even more important.
Reading support in the holidays
Vickie Leung is a speech pathologist and the former director of the Multi-Lit Literacy Centre at Macquarie University.
She and her colleagues at Kids First Children’s Services in Sydney’s northern beaches are helping children to improve their reading during the school holidays.
Kids First founder, teacher Sonja Walker, says supporting children’s reading in the school holidays makes educational sense.
“There are many advantages to enlisting the holiday help of a speech pathologist who is also a literacy educator,” she says.
Closing the reading gap
“The routine of nightly reading, spelling and maths practice are often relaxed during the school holidays and that means that children who get help have the chance to close the gap between themselves and their peers.”
Sonja says that the holidays are also a more relaxed time for children, who learn more easily when they are not fatigued by their daily school routine.
“Holiday time also means that parents can often come to speech therapy with their children. When mums and dads learn how the experts support their children, they can employ the same strategies at home and children’s progress can be even faster.”
Health fund rebates
Sonja says that another benefit is that rebates for individual literacy support from a speech pathologist can often be claimed from private health funds.
“Enlisting the help of a speech pathologist who has literacy experience can be great value for families.”
“Health fund rebates mean that parents can really take advantage of holiday time, giving their child affordable one to one support that can make a big difference to their reading success at school.”
Help your child learn to read in the school holidays
Kids First Children’s Services is located in Brookvale and places are available in December and January with highly experienced speech pathologists who can help children aged 5 to 12 to improve their reading.
For more information about intensive individual reading and literacy support during the school holidays, contact Kids First Children’s Services on (02) 9938 5419.