Teachers, students, parents . . . we all get the same sick feeling in the pit of our stomach when we realize after the first reading assessment after summer that a kid’s reading level has dropped half a grade level, a whole grade level, or even more. It’s not surprise, though. The brain is just like any other muscle: use it or lose it.
One way you can ensure your kid “uses it” is by
using metaphors. Things are always more fun for me and my students when I do this. They aren’t students when they’re trying to solve math word problems, they’re detectives, searching for clues. Not to get the right answer but to solve the case.
I have three metaphors you can start with to help keep your kiddos reading muscles strong over vacation. Have them try out these jobs:
1. Book Reviewer Once a week, take your kiddo to the library. Pencil it into your routine. Their job is to check out the latest books and the classics. If they were writing recommendations, what would they say? Take them to an independent book store, because they’re likely to have employees write book recommendations.
Small World Books, on the Venice Beach Boardwalk, is my favorite and I’ve bought many a book based on it. After your kiddo reads a book, have them write it on a sticky note and leave it inside the front cover of the book. They might not be an “official” book buyer, but they’ll get a taste of what it’s like. And, they can even set up a little store of their own.
2. Navigator Purchase a map of your local area. Wrap it up like a present and excitedly watch as they open it. Help your child locate important landmarks in the community or places they’d like to visit. Read the map together on the way there. I know so many of us have iPhones and GPS systems, but there’s something so engaging about a map. Sell it to your kid with using a pirate metaphor, and they’ll love it. It will develop their brain and will provide a lot of fun for the family.
3. Personal Shopper/Nutritionist Give them a cookbook and encourage them to pick out healthy meals for the family. Have them write a list, bring it to grocery store, and supervise as they read the signs on the aisles to locate the ingredients. They can even read the labels to choose brands with healthy ingredients when it comes to items like bread or chips. Have them read the return policy and discuss the final date to return or exchange items. Don’t forget to pay them! They are doing a valuable service for the family.
As long as you’re visiting the library frequently, your child will probably even come back advanced instead of behind!
Melissa Spiegelman is the founder of Tandem Teaching, where she provides strategies and solutions for parents whose children are experiencing classroom struggles, and an expert consultant to the USC/LAUSD/RAND/UCLA Trauma Services Adaptation Center for Resilience, Hope and Wellness in Schools. Melissa also teaches art playgroups for toddlers. Contact her for a private coaching session.