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Parenting Advice

5 Reading Tips from Literacy Experts to Combat the “COVID Slide”

Written by Sara Rich

Photography by Scosha Woolridge, Photographed by Heather Moore

The “COVID slide” is not a new 2020-themed piece of playground equipment (wouldn’t that be terrifying?!). The “COVID slide,” like the “summer slide”, is the term used to describe the learning loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the impact on students due to the mass exodus from traditional classrooms and into virtual and hybrid learning. 

As 2020 concluded, many education researchers found that virtual learning has caused the youngest learners to take a huge hit in their reading proficiency. According to a study by the Stanford University Center for Research on Education Outcomes, the “COVID slide” has resulted in students’ literacy loss between 57 to 183 full school days.

As the founder of Just Right Reader, my team and I help young readers catch up from lost instruction, jump reading levels, and stay ahead of the curve by partnering with families, schools, and districts to cultivate a deep love of literacy and excellence in all children. 

In honor of I Love To Read Month (February), our team of literacy experts are passing along 5 tips to help combat the COVID slide in your child’s reading journey! 

Read, Reread, Repeat

Just like meeting a new friend, the more time spent with a book the more your child will feel comfortable and build confidence around reading! When kids reread a book again and again it boosts comprehension, fluency, and creates a deeper connection to the text. You can dive deeper into a familiar text by creating fun activities with a book they know well. Turn your young reader into a literary explorer and take them on a letter or word hunt through their favorite book! 

More advanced students can mark their favorite parts of the book and write reasons why they love it on post-its to leave on the pages. Reading a storybook? Great! Have older students study a favorite character and their traits. Reading something informational? Awesome! Let them keep track of the cool facts they learned. Whatever activity you choose, bring reading to life beyond the words on the page by spending extra creative time with your kids’ favorite books.   

Create A Cozy “Book Nook” in Your Home 

Make a cozy book nook where your kids can cuddle in and read. Pick a designated, comfortable reading area and fill it with things your child loves—a favorite blanket, a stuffed animal, a tasty snack, whatever will make their reading spot an extra special place they LOVE to be! When kids have designated reading areas it helps them find peace in reading. By carving out a comforting, happy reading spot kids will associate reading with those warm fuzzy feelings even when it gets hard! Let your kids decorate their space on their own, make signs, add a lamp or flashlight, and choose their favorite stuffed animals to bring into their book nook. Giving your kids ownership of their special reading space will make them more likely to use it!

Build A Reading Routine 

Choose a time to read and reread each day. Before bed? After breakfast? Right after Zoom school? Pick a routine time that works and try to stick to it! A routine reading schedule will boost confidence and comfort with reading and get kids used to reading being part of their daily rhythm. Even with reading at a set time, you can still keep it feeling new, fun, and exciting! Make a reading menu for kids to choose different ways to read—have them try out an accent or tell them to try to read like grandpa or their favorite TV character. Initiate a FaceTime storytime and have your kid read to a family member or a friend. Assemble an audience of their favorite toys or your family pet. Even giving kids a special reading “costume” like a superhero cape, mask, or goofy hat can make the routine feel fresh and new.  

Take Reading Wherever You Go

Finally have a reason to leave the house? No worries! Pack a book or two in your bag. Your kid can read while they’re traveling, or in the car, or while waiting for appointments or takeout orders. You could even designate a few books to leave in the car, so your child knows that when they go somewhere in the car, they get to read a book they love. Or you can always listen to an audiobook together while you drive or find an audiobook where your kid can read along. 

Reading is Always Better with Friends

Reading is more fun in pairs, trios, or with the entire family. Start your own family book club. When parents position themselves as readers, kids will model their behavior. Have conversations about the books you’re reading together while you’re on walks or at meals. Make plans to meet your best friends on Zoom to read together. The outcome of these little reading groups can be huge! Reading with partners is proven to increase social skills, build empathy, and deepen comprehension. 

If you’re looking for more literacy support for your pre-K through 5th grader, Just Right Reader provides subscriptions to Just Right Books, virtual 1:1 teacher sessions, and weekly small group reading classes and writing classes that keep literacy fun and exciting! 

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