Ask the Teacher

My son’s school asks that we read a minimum of 15 minutes per day with our child over the summer. I know reading is important and I always make sure he has books. But is it really necessary to read with him daily?

In a word, yes. At the most basic level, reading with your child even when school is not in session is important to maintaining his skills. When you read to him, you are modeling strong fluency and proper inflection. This helps strengthen his comprehension. When he mimics your fluency in his own reading aloud, he develops better understanding of the content and appreciation of the way the words are put together. This not only benefits him as a reader, but also as a writer. A classroom teacher simply cannot provide this kind of daily one-on-one attention.

Reading together also serves as a great basis for developing important skills in conversation. As you read together, you can discuss the positives and negatives about characters in stories; talking through how those traits impact the character and those around him or her. You can have a dialogue about the problems that arise and the solutions that might be considered.

Continuing this routine long after it is required by elementary school teachers is an excellent way to discuss important issues with your son as he grows up. Reading news articles or essays on topics of importance and using the foundations you have established with fiction and informational reading can provide a great forum for the kinds of discussions that are critical as young people mature.


Writing is something that my fourth grade daughter has really struggled with. She made such great progress through the past school year, but I am afraid that over the summer she will lose the skills she’s gained. What can I do to stop that from happening? 

To maintain or even build upon the momentum of the past school year, find ways to keep your daughter writing over the summer. Rather than requiring the same kinds of assignments she did during the school year, offer opportunities for writing that focus on summer fun.

Purchase journals for both of you and write about how you are spending your summer days. As you share your journals, she will learn firsthand about different points of view in writing.

You might challenge your daughter to a memory contest where each of you make a list of what happened at a special family gathering to see who can recall the greatest number of details. Both of you can then take one of the memories to expand into a journal entry.

Encourage your daughter to write letters to family members and friends she doesn’t see often. Writing letters to an imaginary person about how her summer is going is another idea that could make a fun keepsake to look back on later.

Use pictures from family reunions, vacations or camps to create a memory book using an online photo service. Have your daughter write the details surrounding the event in the picture. These books can be published inexpensively, and can be a great motivator for a young writer!


Summer has been difficult for my daughter socially. She is very introverted and doesn’t have a “best” friend. She tends to spend a lot of time by herself. How can I encourage her to be more social so that she doesn’t miss out on summer fun?

It is important to keep in mind that your idea of summer fun and your daughter’s may differ. If she is introverted by nature, she may crave the quiet of long afternoons with a good book, art pad or musical instrument. She may find being away from the constant social buzz of school to be a huge relief.

Have your daughter make a list of what would happen in an ideal summer and use that as your guide. If she wants a summer that is full of social activities, that can be arranged even without a best friend by taking advantage of things offered in your area. Local libraries often have book clubs for school children that run through the summer. Nature centers and parks have special programs for kids to learn more about animals, vegetation or weather. Being with other children and learning in a casual setting can be a great environment for a friendship to start. Taking swimming, tennis or golf lessons is another way to enjoy the summer and to socialize at the same time.

However, if your daughter prefers a quieter summer, don’t impose your idea of “summer fun” on her. By doing so, you may make her summer quite miserable.


Ask the Teacher is written by Deb Krupowicz, a mother of four who holds a Master’s degree in Curriculum and InstructionDeb has over twenty years of experience teaching preschool, elementary and middle school students. Please send your questions to her at [email protected]


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