Summer break is right around the corner. For some families, the 10 or so weeks off school are filled with cherished traditions such as going to the cottage or attending summer camp. But for more families, summer break represents a real challenge: what to do with school aged children who aren’t old enough to stay by themselves, but can’t accompany parents to work. There are no easy answers. Child care options from day camps to swimming lessons can be both expensive and complicated. But there is one activity that is actually free, and drips with benefit: reading.
Summer break reading ability loss is a real and documented phenomena for younger school-aged children, which is why summer reading is so widely encouraged by teachers. Even Stanford University requires their incoming Freshmen to read three books every summer. Strong reading skills are not only linked to academic success, but emotional maturity – because children who read, can experience far more than just what they actually live – and therefore develop larger emotional vocabularies. And of course, basic literacy comes before financial literacy. Bottom line: It is hard to think of reasons why not to read. If your kids are too young to read to themselves, do what you can to have someone else read to them.
Summer break reading ability loss is a real and documented phenomena for younger school-aged children. Even Stanford University requires incoming Freshman to read three books every summer, to ensure they continue to learn and think about the world when they are not in school.
Libraries still exist in many communities and most still have summer reading programs, for every age and stage. You can bump up the “fun factor” of participating in a summer reading program for your kids by adding small or even larger financial incentives. Do they love ice cream? Offer one trip a weekend to their favorite ice cream spot in exchange for reading a picture book a day or chapter book a week. Do they want a fancier than necessary pair of running shoes? Offer to buy them at the end of a month’s participation in the local libraries’ summer reading program. Are your parents looking after your kids for part of the summer? Even less mobile seniors can read to their grandkids. Make reading time a non-negotiable and watch how quickly picking out books and relaxing into the folded arm of a reading grandparent becomes a new family tradition.
We exist to help parents teach their kids to think before they buy. Thinking about what kind of book you might like to read is an easy way to get into the habit of thinking before making any choice.
We exist to help parents teach their kids to think before they buy. Thinking about what kind of book you might like to read is an easy way to get into the habit of thinking before making any choice. Is there a series of books your son or daughter has been clamoring to own? Have them complete a Gift Survey (the “Other” category works best for books) so they understand the full value of their request. Some of us at Gifting Sense still have all of our “Little House on the Prairie” or “Captain Underpants” books. All of us can recall at least one book we read as a kid, that changed our view of the world.
If you can make time over the next couple of weekends to investigate how to bring reading alive for your kids this summer you can be at work and know that they’ll be productively engaged for at least some time every day. The gift of being transported into a storyline might be almost as beneficial as learning to live within one’s means. And when your kids go back to school in September, they won’t have lost as much progress as their non-reading peers.
We’ll be back in mid-August to help parents everywhere teach their kids how to think before they buy anything new for the first day of school. Until then, we hope you and yours have some great summer reads and at least one or two opportunities to give your children one of the best gifts ever: Financial Literacy!