Research shows that children that read over the summer months do better in school. Children with ADHD often have difficulty or fall behind in their schoolwork. They often struggle to keep up with class work. Developing a reading program can provide your child with an advantage during the next school year.
Many parents may cringe at the idea of forcing their child to complete work over the summer (who can blame them, children with ADHD often require so much monitoring from parents during the school year, parents need a summer break as much as children.) But a summer reading program doesn’t have to be about completing work or be formal. Parents can develop a program that fits into their lifestyle, their summer plans, their child’s interests and their daily schedule. By making the reading program personalized to the needs of your child, you will help to create successes and increase their self-esteem as well.
Most children will benefit from as little as 15 to 30 minutes of reading per day. If your child has problems with reading comprehension you can add in writing a sentence or paragraph about what they have read, or having them give you an oral summary. Younger children can draw pictures or cut pictures from magazines to create a collage of the books they read over the summer.
Before You Create a Summer Reading Program
- Talk with your child’s teacher. Find out what their reading level is currently. Ask about the books they have been reading in school and take some time to look through them. If possible, talk with a teacher in the next grade level to find out more about what will be expected of them the following year. Ask if the school provides a summer reading list.
- List your child’s interests. Do they like sports, cars, dancing, or animals? Is there a specific collection or series of books they have found interesting? Are there television shows they like that may have books to go along with the series?
- Visit the library without your child. Discuss with the librarian your child’s reading level and interests. They will be able to show you the section your child should be reading from. Write down some of the books you find that you think your child may like. Choose some books that are on their current reading level and some that are one level ahead.
- Ask about summer reading programs at the library. Many libraries offer weekly story time or have other activities going on during the summer to encourage reading. Find out if there are any that will fit into your schedule.
During the Summer
- Schedule time each week or every other week to visit the library with your child. You can create a weekly outing, where you stop at the park or stop for ice cream after choosing books.
- At the library monitor the books your children choose. Guide them to the section the librarian suggested to you earlier. Limit the number of books your children pick out. Make sure they will be able to complete the books before going back. If they choose too many books, they will likely get overwhelmed and not read any, if they choose too few, they will likely finish and have nothing to read way ahead of your next scheduled visit to the library.
- Check the books your child chooses for reading levels. If they continually choose books below their reading level, they may be unsure or lack confidence in their reading skills. If they choose books above the level, be encouraging, but guide them to choose one or two at their level as well. You may want to have your child choose a few books at level and one book above their level to encourage growth in their reading skills.
- Choose a book for yourself each time you visit the library.
- At home, spend some time looking at the books. Read the back covers or look through at the pictures. Discuss what the book might be like and why your child chose that particular book.
- Pick a time of day for reading. Set aside between 15 and 30 minutes for “reading time.” If your child is younger, this will be a time you spend reading together. As they get improve, they should be reading some of the time by themselves and some with you.
- Let your child see you read. If your child knows that you enjoy reading, they will find more enjoyment in it as well.
- Use your library time and reading time to enjoy just being with your child.
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.