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Slow the COVID summer slide

Updated: May 20, 2020

We're ending the school year with more of a whimper than a bang. A lot of us are relieved: distance learning is over! We can get on with the summer!

But wait: what summer?

Every year, schools and libraries and churches and camps promise programs for keeping kids engaged, hoping to head off the dreaded summer slide. This year, some of us have the COVID slide as we start the summer break. And lots of us are facing a summer without the programs we've always relied on.

This is a worrying vacuum: what's a parent to do?

Consider shoring up one thing your student finds frustrating. I'm going hard for reading here, but my next couple of posts are mathy, and the couple after that are sciency. Reading underpins all of them.

We read out loud to our two, aged eight and 13, daily. The 13-year old is a Terry Pratchett fan, and we're currently deep into Witches Abroad. Like all Sir Pratchett's books, WA is loaded with references to a million other stories, books and urban legends. We've been having a great time recognizing some of the connections.

And this is the thing: WA is making us recall past experiences: The Sound of Music, a brief flirtation with learning Latin, Lord of the Rings, New Orleans, The Blues's really a lot. Honestly, most of the references we don't get aren't funny. The ones we look up, though, are leading us onto other books, other stories, other urban legends. They're pulling us forward.

Connecting your student's reading experiences pulls them forward, too. And later this year, if/when s/he runs into non-fiction, a speech, Shakespeare, a biography, history, that experience makes confidence.

As always, laying out why you're doing what you're doing is crazy important. Let your reader know you're going to be reading a few books (or more, depending on your reader) that all have something in common, and you're looking for that common thing. For younger readers, a great place to start can be fairy tales: lots of repeated characters and behaviors here, especially if you get your hands - or e-reader - on a different culture's version. Middle school readers might like some of the books here. High schoolers might be more interested in these: Beauty and the Beast and Beastly, Little Briar-Rose and Sleeping Persun of Better-Than-Average Attractiveness, The Little Mermaid and Disney Film's The Little Mermaid.

Once your student sees the connections between these stories, s/he may start seeing them on their own. Encourage this. If they hear a connection on the radio, see something on TikTok, Insta, Twitter or their favorite Netflix/HBO show, take time appreciating the connections they've made. As awkward as it sounds, make a few yourself! The more normal noticing connections are are for you, the more normal it'll be for your student.

Feeling like this is a great idea for your student but prefer I work it all out? Pop me a text at 281.536.6689.

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