If your students’ parents are anything like me, they’re currently trying to figure out how to avoid a summer full of that dreaded declaration: “I’m bored!” Some parents intend to sign their children up for ALL THE THINGS in order to eliminate the possibility of boredom altogether. Is this a good idea?

Well, I’m a fan of organized activities as much as the next person, but I do know that summer break should also be just that: A break. A break from schedules and hurrying out the door and adult-led activities leads to unstructured time in which children are free to play, explore, and relax. When my kids declare that they’re bored, I’m training myself to respond with, “GOOD!”—and to truly believe that boredom is often a good thing.

For one thing, kids who aren’t racing out the door might actually have time to get lost in a book. When is the last time you were able to relax with a novel in the middle of the day? It’s a luxury many adults don’t have—but that doesn’t mean parents should deprive their children of it. Summer is an ideal time for kids to kick back and read for long stretches of time. And as you know, ample reading time is the best way for kids to avoid the Summer Slide.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking next: “A parent can tell her child to go read a book, but that doesn’t mean the child will actually do it.” More often than not, the child—even an avid, fluent reader—will whine that he doesn’t want to read, right? So, before school lets out for the year, you, the teacher, can equip parents with some strategies.

Here are some tips for helping parents boost their children’s literacy this summer:

  • Provide parents with some popular reading suggestions—not just the titles on the Summer Reading List, but a list of the kids’ favorites. Which books flew off your bookshelf this year? What are your colleagues, the school librarian, and the local booksellers noticing? Parents genuinely want to know this information. If a child says he doesn’t want to read, a bike ride to the library to collect some highly engaging books will often solve the problem.
  • Remind parents to make connections between reading and their child’s other interests. For example, a child who loves baseball can boost literacy skills by writing a letter to a favorite player. An avid Minecraft player could be encouraged to read a book about the game. A super competitive kid might love the facts in the Guinness Book of World Records. The kid who loves arts and crafts could cut text out of magazines to create word collages or teach herself a new hobby by reading a how-to book. Opportunities for building literacy are everywhere, but sometimes, busy parents need to be reminded to look for them. 
  • Distribute this flyer, which provides parents with information about how Read Naturally’s popular and engaging iPad apps—One Minute Reader and Splat-o-Nym—can help students build fluency and vocabulary skills over the summer. These fun apps will satisfy kids' desire for screen time without turning their brains to mush. In fact, they'll do the opposite. 
  • Set parents of Read Live students up as program helpers so that the students can continue using Read Live at home over the summer. This blog post explains how to do it.
  • Send home information about the five components of reading in order to help parents of struggling readers understand how their child might be struggling.
  • Give your students a confidence boost before releasing them to their summer shenanigans. Show them their progress from this year, and tell them, yet again, that they have what it takes to be good readers. If you missed Candyce Ihnot’s blog post, The Best Reward of All, read it and heed her advice. It's never too late.
  • Tell them to get messy, scrape their knees, enjoy their favorite activities, and yes, GET BORED. Boredom is where they’ll find the time and space to try new things and, of course, to read new books.

We hope you can be a little bit bored this summer, too!