Summer reading helps kids retain literacy during the holidays

8:05 pm on 29 December 2019

Organisers are hoping to nearly double the number of children participating in a University of Auckland summer reading programme.

NZ's score dropped for the first time in 15 years.

NZ's score dropped for the first time in 15 years. Photo: 123RF

The Summer Learning Journey is aimed at ensuring children's reading and writing skills don't slump during the holidays and is running for the fifth time this summer.

It gives children in Years 4-8 reading and writing-related activities to complete on a blog website where Summer Learning Journey staff can provide feedback.

The scheme's founder, Rachel Williamson-Dean, said 800 children participated last summer and she was hoping for as many as 1500 this year.

She said children who wrote just twice a week for the programme experienced no loss of literacy during the holidays.

"In some cases they even realise improvements in their reading and writing achievement and this would be for students who traditionally would have had a very dramatic drop, quite a slide or slump, in their achievement," she said.

"Some of our students lose as much as a year worth of reading or writing achievement over summer, but blogging just twice a week and we've completely eliminated that slide."

Dr Williamson-Dean, who is a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Auckland's Woolf Fisher Research Centre, said the scheme was being run in partnership with 50 schools in four North Island centres and two South Island centres.

She said some of the schools had been in the programme for three years and she expected that would drive up the number of children participating.

Dr Williamson-Dean said all of the schools used chromebooks and other devices for learning so the summer reading programme was an extension of the children's normal learning.