Spring break season is upon us, but that doesn’t mean the learning has to stop for your young ones. By setting up a series of reading-related activities that they can take part in during their week off, not only will they keep their brains sharp, they’ll also be less likely to hit you with the “I’m bored” refrain that can be all too common during school breaks.
Of course, it may take a bit more of a nudge than simply handing your child a pile of books. The goal is to instill a sense of fun, to get the kids to realize that reading is actually enjoyable and as fun as watching a movie or playing with their toys.
Here are some ideas you can use this spring break to encourage your kids to read during their time away from school:
Create a spring break reading challenge. Challenge the kids to meet daily reading goals, such as one hour or a set number of pages each day. Meeting each day’s goal could result in small rewards, such as a trip to the park or their choice of dessert that night. Then, if your child meets daily goals for the entire week, you might consider a larger reward, such as a trip to the bookstore to get a new book.
Make a trip to the library. Set some time aside early in the week to head to the library with your child for books that they can spend the week reading. It’s great if the books are educational, but don’t force it—if they choose some “lighter” reading such as books branded with their favorite TV characters, that’s OK. The idea is to simply keep them reading and help them develop a love of books, no matter the genre.
Read together often. Reading together should be an activity you try to incorporate into your routine year-round, but more free time during spring break creates an opportunity to turn it up a notch. Reading to your child has many benefits, even if they’re under a year old. For example, reading to infants younger than 12 months teaches them the basics about how books work, and it can also help their social skills and emotional awareness. The benefits may vary depending on the age of your child, but there is always one constant — quality time together.
Make the best use of their daily screen time. Parents understand just how much kids love to play with phones or tablets, and limiting screen time can be a real challenge. Even when your kids are in front of a screen, there are ways to make it an intentional and enriching activity. Designate part of your child’s daily screen time for using apps that help them recognize letters and words in a fun way. For kids, these digital activities can be just as fun as any other game out there, with the obvious benefits of also teaching them reading basics in the process.
Include reading in your road trip activities. If you’re taking a road trip during spring break, use some of your in-car time to work on reading skills with your child. You can help them practice letters and sounds, or you can read a book and then discuss it together.
Set up a special reading space at home. Set up a corner meant specifically for reading time, complete with a comfy place to sit, a reading lamp and perhaps some extra pillows. Keep some colorful Post-it Notes nearby so you can show the kids how to mark their favorite parts of a story. This encourages kids to actively think about reading in a deeper way. Remember, you don’t need to be an interior designer, just being intentional about creating a dedicated space shows your kids that reading is important to you.
Get your child’s friends involved. One way to combine reading and social time is to buy two copies of a book, and then have your child give it to one of their friends. This gives your child an opportunity to both read and discuss the book with their friend, and the friend (and their parents) will appreciate the activity.
These ideas will help keep your kids reading during your upcoming spring break, a great way to keep them both occupied and learning. And the best part is, these tips are not limited to spring — use them throughout the year when the kids need a little extra boost to help develop their affinity for books, reading, and learning new things.
Jamie Levinthal, Hooked on Phonics
Jamie Levinthal is a University of Vermont trained K-6 educator with a special interest in reading and early literacy. She believes that introducing children to reading concepts early unlocks a world of opportunity later in life and helps create enthusiastic readers and lifelong learners. Jamie is motivated to empower children (and families) to make reading a fun and enriching part of daily life.