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Further a child's reading skills over the summer

June 20, 2003|by LISA TEDRICK PREJEAN

School has been out for less than two weeks.

Are your kids bouncing off the walls yet?

Are you concerned that they'll forget what they learned this year and won't be ready when school starts again in the fall?

Relax.

You can provide fun activities that will build on the skills they've learned while continuing the learning process.

Just don't tell them that is your intention.

Summer should be about fun, adventure and discovery. Sometimes all children need is a little direction from the adults in their lives.

We tend to sign them up for summer reading clubs, classes, camps and other programs.

But are we doing anything to enhance their writing skills?

We can, and it can be a natural part of their summer if we don't make it seem like a chore.

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Here's a suggestion from Janet Holian, vice president of marketing for the printing service VistaPrint: Don't introduce a new activity by saying, "Today we're going to ... ."

That's too much like school.

Instead, provide stationery and other paper, envelopes, stamps and art supplies so children have what they need at their fingertips.

This summer, VistaPrint is teaming with the Emily Post Institute to offer free Emily Post Summer Writing Kits for Kids, beginning Monday, June 23.

The kits, which provide creative ideas for parents and other caregivers, will be available on the company's Web site, www.vistaprint.com.

"If parents become involved with kids when they're developing writing skills, it makes a huge difference," Holian says.

Here are some ideas that will be included in the kits:

For writing a letter:

  • To get started, just imagine you are talking to the person. Write down what you would say if he were in the room with you.

  • Include two or three things that would interest the person you are writing. Ask questions that show your interest in him.

  • If your child will be attending day camp, encourage him to write to a relative about what he did that day.

  • If the child is staying overnight at camp, pack stationery, envelopes, addresses and stamps so he can write to a relative or friend about his experiences. Find a box that is big enough to hold all these items but small enough to tuck into a duffle bag or place on a shelf. The child can personalize the box by decorating it and by writing his name on it.



For writing thank-you notes:

  • Before writing, encourage your child to talk briefly about the gift or visit and what made it special.

  • Mention the gift or visit in the note. Tell what you liked about it, what made it special, how you will use the gift, your favorite part of the visit, or anything that will make the note unique.



Journals:

  • Keep it simple. Initial entries can simply be a record of one or two events of the day.

  • On vacation, encourage the child to write and draw a little each day about his experiences.

  • Keep it manageable. Define a time period or activity so it doesn't stretch out like an endless task.

  • Encourage him to think about the best thing, favorite thing and funniest thing that happened.

  • Introduce the concept of feelings by asking your child how an event made him feel and suggest that he write a sentence expressing that.



Help the child see that writing can be fun ... especially in the summertime.

"Don't tie them down to the chair 'til they finish," Holian says.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to her at lisap@herald-mail.com.

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