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15 ways to motivate struggling students this summer

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The progress your struggling readers have made this year can be far too easily undone in one summer spent in front of the television. A few days ago, we posted some ideas for helping parents successfully teach reading at home, adapted from a 2003 article by Linda Baker. What Baker’s research also noted, aside from the importance of teaching reading at home, is the importance of motivating struggling readers to read at home. If students are motivated to read, they're likely to keep reading and progressing on their own. But without the extrinsic motivators your classroom provides—things like recognition, grades, and competition—your readers might do significantly less reading (and make significantly less progress) over the summer break. Luckily, your students will have access to another powerful motivator: their parents.

The progress your struggling readers have made this year can be far too easily undone in one summer spent in front of the television. A few days ago, we posted some ideas for helping parents successfully teach reading at home, adapted from a 2003 article by Linda Baker. What Baker’s research also noted, aside from the importance of teaching reading at home, is the importance of motivating struggling readers to read at home.

If students are motivated to read, they're likely to keep reading and progressing on their own. But without the extrinsic motivators your classroom provides—things like recognition, grades, and competition—your readers might do significantly less reading (and make significantly less progress) over the summer break. Luckily, your students will have access to another powerful motivator: their parents.

Parents can play a vital role in helping their children develop an intrinsic motivation to read, Baker says. And best of all, they can do it without extensive training in literacy education. In fact, Baker’s research indicates that one of the most valuable things a parent can do for a struggling reader is teach him or her that reading is not just useful, but enjoyable. Parents can do this by simply providing reading materials for their child, reading in front of their child, and reading to their child.

That’s not to say that helping their children develop an intrinsic motivation to read will be easy for parents. Encouraging fun, informal reading might seem counterintuitive, especially to parents of struggling readers who tend to focus more on reading accuracy. So, we’ve created this handout as a resource for parents who want to know how to make reading enjoyable for their child -- and for the rest of the family, too. With encouragement from their parents over the summer break, your students are sure to come back ready to keep reading for the next school year ... and for the rest of their lives.

For information on how Imagine Learning English is helping struggling readers near you, click here.

15 Summer Reading Activities for Struggling Readers

  • See a movie that’s based on a book. Then, read the book together.
  • Encourage your child to read for fun by reading entertaining books, newspapers, and magazine articles together.
  • Have your child read the recipe as you make something fun, like a favorite family dish.
  • Ask your child’s teacher for printouts of books from Imagine Learning English.
  • Read stories out loud, either to your child or with your child.
  • Encourage your child to explore new interests by signing up for a sports team, summer camp, or even a fun summer class.
  • Then, find books and magazine articles about his or her new interests and read them together.
  • Have older children read out loud to their younger siblings.
  • Make reading together enjoyable by focusing on the meaning of what you read rather than focusing on reading accuracy.
  • Talk to your child about things he or she has read in school or at home.
  • Get a library card and help your child check out books related to his or her life and interests.
  • Play board games that involve reading, and include siblings and friends whenever you can.
  • Ask your child’s teacher to recommend books.
  • Have your child watch reading-focused television programs on PBS.
  • Make reading a family event by having 15-30 minutes of family reading time every day.
For a printable handout to send home with your students, click here for English and click here for Spanish.

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