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How To Keep Kids Reading During The School Holidays

Updated: May 30, 2023

With school holidays here we wanted to share some suggestions for keeping the holiday ‘learning loss’ at bay.

We are absolute advocates of kids (and parents!) having a break during the holidays if possible. A break from routines and from the skill-building and cognitive load that is taking place throughout the school term. Read on for our thoughts on how to keep literacy learning light and playful during the holidays. First, a quick word on holiday reading.

Holiday Reading

When your child is practising reading with you, and at school, during the term, we strongly recommend decodable readers for those who are still learning the alphabetic code (more on those in an upcoming article!). During the holidays, you may want to continue this process, it is great for continuity.

If however, you’d rather have a break, we endorse reading for pleasure! The benefits of reading aloud with your kids include developing an understanding of phrasing, fluency and tone, exposure to rich vocabulary and understanding parts of speech. It has many socio-cultural benefits, too, as children see themselves and others, cultures and communities reflected back at them.

Never fear, if you don't have the time, skills or inclination, you may consider an audio, picture or chapter book that takes the imagination to all sorts of places. Although your child is not practising decoding (a fancy word for reading) they are developing all types of other important skills.

I want to be clear though, choosing a text, no matter how rich or well-loved and simply reading it aloud, is not an evidence-based or effective way for children to learn the underpinning skills required for decoding proficiency.

Phonological Awareness

We believe in using play during ‘downtime’ to continue engaging in and practising the fundamentals of reading, writing and spelling.

Phonological awareness is the ability to hear sounds within a word. It comprises a set of skills known to be the crucial building blocks for reading. Children with secure phonological awareness are much more likely to become proficient readers.

Armed with that information, we offer you some ideas for play with younger children that support this process:

Beginning Sound Match

You say sun, they say another word that starts with /s/

Ending Sound Match

You say red, they say /d/

Middle Sound Match

You say hop, they say /o/

Chop It Up

You say robot, they say the sounds /r/ /o/ /b/ /o/ /t/

You say boat, they say /b/ /oa/ /t/

Make A Rhyme

You say cat, they say mat

Blend it

You say /s/ /m/ /ar/ /t/, they say smart

You say /m/ /ou/ /se/, they say mouse

Reading games

For older children learning letters and sounds, create a ‘sound hunt’. It's honestly as simple as this: you say a sound, and they find the symbol in the newspaper/magazine/menu or whatever other print you have available to you. Or, they find an item in the house/garden/beach beginning or ending with that sound.

Who doesn’t love a matching pairs game? Using squares of paper, help your child write two copies of the symbols (letters) they know. You may want to pick a selection of up to 10. Place them upside down and mix them up. They turn over one at a time, hoping to find a match.

Simple, fun, and aligned with the Science of reading.

Our preschool classes are oriented around teaching these skills in a structured and systematic way. Check out the Sail Away Readers Instagram for lots more tricks, tips and tools.

Written by Nat Brass and Sarah Hugh Sail Away Readers Parents You've Got This Early Literacy experts.

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Kids continuing learning to read during school holidays


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