It’s finally here: the second half of the school year. Your child’s teacher calls you in for a parent-teacher
conference. Knowing the topic could mean anything from the very good to the very bad, you manage a
poker face as you approach the teacher. He or she informs you that your child is underperforming and
will need summer school to bolster reading skills.
It was a new experience for me and when I heard the oft-dreaded words “summer school” I quickly
refused to believe summer school was the only option. In fact, I learned of several summer school options available for
both parents and children that can close the reading gap.
Of course, the worst action to take is no action. Studies show that a child can lose up to a full year of
material over the summer holiday. If your child has been receiving interventions at school, then that
progress could be reversed over summer.
Let’s take a look at what reading options are available so that you can decide what will work for you and
So what does summer school look like? It starts with you, the parent, dropping your child off at the
school for four or five days a week for a morning class session lasting up to three hours. A certified
teacher has a small group of students with similar skills and uses the programs the school has adopted
to instruct them. While this has proven to prevent summer reading loss, it has not always been proven
to actually close the gap for a child that is still behind his or her peers.
Summer Library Program
Another option for is to enrolling your child in a local free summer library program. It is pretty simple to
enroll. At the beginning of the summer you would go to the children’s area and asks to sign your child
up. You provide the child’s name, grade, and school. The librarian hands you a booklet where your child
can log in his/her reading that he or she has done. When you arrive at the library during the summer,
your child can redeem the points he or she has earned for prizes and coupons for area attractions.
During the summer, the library will put on fun programs for the kids so that they are motivated to come
to the library. During this time kids can pick out new books to read over the next week or two. It is a
relaxed program and is described by both parents and children as motivational. Although the summer
library programs do not offer one-on-one instruction, it can change a child’s perception of reading when
the child gets to exercise independence in choosing reading material. Therefore, it may not close the
gap completely but can be great as an auxiliary, or additional, resource.
Help Your Child
You can also create a schedule for your child where you are the sole person helping your child. Many
parents like to do this because they feel that their child’s reading is their responsibility.
If this is something that interests you, I have created a book called 31 Days to Become a Better Reader:
Increasing Your Child’s Reading Level. In this book, I challenge you and your child to sit down together
and read for 31 days straight. Both you and your child get to read a book that you want and alternate
reading for thirty minutes each day. The book 31 Days is designed to give you some suggestions on
what you can focus on when you are reading. It is like having a Reading Specialist right there with you
whispering pro-tips that help you help your child.
The problem with helping your own child can be that our own children are usually pretty resistant to
working with us, especially if they are behind. Your child may already be lacking confidence, may feel
guilty about not meeting certain goals, or may feel backed into a corner. In this circumstance, a third
party can provide a service that benefits both you and your child.
Tutoring is an excellent option for children that are resistant to help for any number of reasons (shame,
guilt, embarrassment, apathy, annoyance, boredom, and more). A tutor typically provides an
assessment that hones in on your child’s reading gaps and creates an individualized program. Tutors can
range in experience and have a variety of personalities and teaching styles, so you will want to do your
research to find a tutor that has experience and achieves the results you desire.
Thanks to the internet, your selection of tutors is nearly unlimited and you can definitely find a summer reading
program that will fit your child's needs. In fact, you can find the best the tutors in
the world to work with your child. I have been tutoring online since 2010 and have helped over one
hundred students close their reading gaps. One little girl that I worked with ended first grade at the bottom
of her class in reading. Her mom found me and I created the following Reading Recipe: one hour of
tutoring a week via Skype for three months. The result? A child that went from a first grade level to a
third grade level before she entered second grade. Both mother and daughter still reap the benefits of
these online tutoring sessions and I remain in contact with this family to this day.
Creating a Recipe for Success
Speaking of recipes, it’s time to create your child’s Reading Recipe. This is the fun part! For my daughter
Mikayla, I am going to use a combination of options. I am opting out of summer school because I
haven’t seen the benefits that would warrant shuttling her to school every day. She will work with a
tutor, follow a schedule she and I set up, and participate in the summer library program. I know that
with this plan in place that she will soar and rise to success. What will your plan look like?
If you are interested in connecting with me regarding Skype reading tutoring, just click on the contact
me page and I can help you get set up.
I would love to be able to answer any questions that you have regarding the choices that you have
before you. Feel free to respond below and I will do my best to answer them. If you are looking for
more information regarding these choices and the pros and cons of each of them, please check out this
clip on Google Hangout.