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Education Lab Blog

Education Lab is a project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

Topic: reading

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August 8, 2014 at 3:29 PM

Guest: 7 ways to help kids with summer reading

The Shaw Island library has a cozy reading section for children. Photo by Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times 2012.

The Shaw Island library has a cozy reading section for children. Photo by Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times 2012.

Summer is a perfect time to start a new habit in your home: reading together. Here are a few simple tips that can help parents support their young readers as they are learning, and then practicing, how to read. It is never too young to start. Even toddlers can benefit from these ideas.

1. Let them shine

Watch eyes light up when she or he corrects you! Pretend to not know a word. Mispronounce a word. Look to the child for the answer.

2. Take turns.

Take turns reading pages. “I will read one page to you, then you read one to me!” Books like Mo Willems’ “Elephant and Piggie” series are great to get started with.

3. Point to words

Point to the words as you read to your child. Use your finger to help the child keep pace. This can even help toddlers learn basic words. As she or he is sounding out a word, use two fingers to keep the child’s eye on the part of the word being pronounced.


Comments | More in Guest opinion, Opinion | Topics: reading, summer learning loss

June 19, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Leave no book behind: How to fight summer learning loss

The Shaw Island library has a cozy reading section for children. Photo by Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times 2012.

The Shaw Island library has a cozy reading section for children. Photo by Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times 2012.

Summer vacation begins this week for many Seattle-area children and with it, a drain on knowledge and skills that researchers have dubbed the “summer slide.”

“By the end of summer, students perform, on average, one month behind where they left off in the spring,” according to research summarized in a 2011 report by the Rand Corporation.

The summer learning loss accumulates over time and, while all kids lose some math skills over the long break, low-income kids lose more ground in reading than wealthier peers, who sometimes even make gains over the summer. The upshot is a widening of the achievement gap.

Research has shown that high quality summer reading programs can halt the slide and even boost achievement with effects that last for at least two years after the student participated, according to Rand.


| More in News | Topics: achievement gap, reading, summer learning loss

December 19, 2013 at 12:58 PM

Poll: Are tablets replacing books in your household?

Yesterday on the blog, we weighed the pros and cons of using technology as a learning tool for toddlers:

Not much is known about how such media experiences affect infant brains, according to Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, director of the Infant and Child Lab at Temple University, who spoke on a recent online panel sponsored by Child Trends, a nonprofit research group.

What they do know: Done well, digital experiences can enhance children’s knowledge and skills. Done poorly, they can hurt.

Also on Wednesday, The Atlantic published an article about children reading on electronic devices. The headline: “Tablets make it nearly impossible for kids to get lost in a story.”

The post went on to cite a study from the UK that found more children are now reading on screens than reading physical books. Learning-based apps, the author argued, are focused on interactivity, making it difficult for children to easily follow long narratives and “fall in love with reading.”


Comments | More in Poll | Topics: reading, technology

December 4, 2013 at 9:31 AM

Guest: How a summer club got Seattle kids and parents reading together

reading thermometer dayna provitt

A reading thermometer the Summer Reading Club created to track student progress (Photo by Dayna Provitt)

Something magical happens when a child reads out loud, to an adult or around his or her peers. There’s a sparkle, a pride, a joy. Many parents haven’t experienced this, and we all absolutely need to.

This is the thought that kept me up late one night in May last year. I was thinking about some of the children in my first-grader’s class, the emerging readers whom I worked with weekly.

Could I impact their reading this summer, even though I don’t have a connection with their parents? Many work full time and can’t go to school functions. How can I share this experience with them? I had seen their kids grow so much this year. Many now read with confidence, and I was rewarded with lovely, toothy (and toothless) grins. Yet summer was coming, and their days may not include such joyful reading and proud smiles. Could I change that?

Thus the Summer Reading Club was born.


Comments | More in Guest opinion | Topics: parent involvement, reading