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Keeping school skills during the summer

While summer vacation has just started, parents may want to help their children keep busy and keep them academically challenged with free online tools designed to promote reading and maintain math skills.

The “Find a Book” search tool at http://www.lexile.com/findabook/ helps children find books to read that are within their abilities that can enhance their potential for learning. This free online website can be accessed from any online computer like those available at your local library. It is also multi-lingual.

Parents can also help children keep their math skills adding up by enrolling their kids in the “Summer Math Challenge,” a free online program for second- through fifth-grade students. The “Summer Math Challenge is accessed at http://www.quantiles.com/content/summer-math-challenge/. From June 23 through Aug. 1, parents who enroll their children in the program will receive daily emails with fun activities and links to educational resources.

Local librarians will be hosting summer reading programs which are free and open to the public.

“At the Putnam County Public Library District the summer program, Paws to Read, includes fun events for kids of all ages, teens and adults with special programs, books and craft activities that will highlight our friends in the animal kingdom,” Jay Kalman, Putnam County Public Library Director said.“This summer, you’ll be able to dive with dolphins, cross the desert by camel, soar above the clouds with eagles, chatter with chipmunks, and much more through library programming and books at the six Putnam County libraries. Stop in, sign up, attend a program, fetch a book from your local branch library and curl up to enjoy a good story.”

Research shows struggling learners score significantly higher on standardized tests taken at the start of summer than they do on the same tests taken at summer’s end. This summer learning loss is particularly evident in reading and is most pronounced among students from low socioeconomic backgrounds who may not have access to books, but it can be an issue for children of all socioeconomic backgrounds. Studies show children who read through the summer months retain more of their academic skills and are better prepared to learn at the start of the school year.

Librarians, who have long promoted summer reading, are also encouraged to use “Find a Book.” Library staff can assist parents and students with the “Find a Book” utility and Lexile measures to help them find appropriate books.

The “Find a Book” utility at lexile.com/findabook uses a student’s reading score, reported as a Lexile measure, from state standardized tests, including the ISAT, to provide a Lexile range and corresponding list of texts within that range. The Lexile range for a reader is from 50L above his or her Lexile measure to 100L below. If a student attempts to read material above their Lexile range, the text may challenge the student and his or her ability to construct meaning from the reading experience may decrease. Likewise, material below a reader’s Lexile range will provide him or her with little comprehension challenge.

The Lexile framework was used in the development of the reading standards for the new Common Core State Standards, which schools across the state are in the process of implementing. The new standards replace the outdated Illinois State Learning Standards and ensure students leave high school ready for college and careers.

Users of the “Find a Book” search tool can also find appropriate books without a Lexile measure through a search using the child’s grade level and comfort with the typical reading materials at that grade level. The search utility will produce a starting Lexile range that can be further refined.

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