If you saw me walking across campus with a clipboard in my hand, I would probably be on my way to substitute in a primary (3- to 6-year-old) classroom. I keep a stack of blank slips of paper and a pencil on the clipboard, because I know how much new readers simply love reading handwritten words and phrases. It is simply magic to them that I can have an idea in my head and make it manifest on a piece of paper and that they can decode it! It’s an excitement that all of the Bob Books and other primers in the world can never match.
For children who are at home during the summer break, parents will wish to work diligently with slowing the pace of life. Children will savor the leisurely passage of time in which they can relish individual choices, uninterrupted play, ample rest and sleep, unhurried meals and unplugged screens. Here are just a few ideas of how a child can fill her long lovely summer days and return to school refreshed, nourished and eager:
We know that one of the very best things any parent can do for their child’s development in reading is to read aloud to the child. Over the years, many parents and former students have told us stories of their experience reading and being read to. What these stories tell us is that reading aloud together is far more than just a support for reading development; it can be a vital and deeply cherished time in which parents and children explore the world together through books and conversation. Here are a few of the stories we have heard.
She was twenty and she told us that her mom had read aloud to her every night till she went off to university. The first time she came home for a visit her mom kissed her and said goodnight. “Wait,” she said to her mom, “we can’t go to bed till you read to me!” And so their custom continued, but over time it evolved into each of them alternating to read to the other from their current book.
Zach is a bit of an anomaly. He is incredibly smart in many areas, but was a late bloomer, at least when it came to reading. He didn’t read well until the 2nd or 3rd grade. But, as Montessorians often know to expect, at some point in that year something “clicked on” and he began reading voraciously– his sensitive period for reading was just a bit later than most children. He was soon reading chapter books, and by 5th grade was reading at a high school level. In high school he probably learned more from his independent reading than from school. He continues to read everything from science fiction to science journals and everything in between, and is one of the best-read people I know.
As the director of a Montessori school, one of the most frequent questions I get from parents is, “What should I be doing at home to help my child academically?” My answer is always the same: “Talk and read with your child.”