School is out but we all know that if your students don’t “use it” they will “lose it” – their reading skills – that is. As parents, we also are familiar with those “I don’t know what to do with myself” summer blues. Listening to audio books may just be the answer. If you student is looking for a relaxing way to spend some time this summer, have him or her check out www.audiobooksync.com. This website holds a multitude of books for students and families to listen to in audio mode. This is great for the student who needs to enhance their vocabulary, English skills or who just want to build their background knowledge of classic books to better prepare themselves for College. During the summer months from May 5th to August 17th, SYNC will be giving away 2 audiobook downloads a week based on weekly themes. There is also a section for teachers with additional resources on the site. This is a great way to help students enjoy reading, learn new vocabulary and keep those reading and comprehension skills razor sharp.
Children love to be read to so a great way to expose children to a plethora of wonderful language that can build those verbal skills is by having them listen to stories online or on their iPods. Listening to oral stories can also strengthen visualization skills in young children. There are many free podcasts and even phone aps on iTunes that you can download for children to enjoy over and over again. Two of my favorite websites for great primary stories are www.storynory.com and www.thestoryhome.com. Both of these websites have wonderful selections of oral stories that can help stretch imaginations and build those important vocabulary skills. Be sure to check out the wonderful materials available there.
In the next month, many of you will be returning to your classrooms to begin a new school year with an eager group of new faces waiting to see how things will go in your classroom. A wonderful gift that you can give your students of any age is to read aloud to them daily. For elementary students, this can be a picture book or a “classic” that would normally be just slightly beyond what your children might be able to read by themselves. For middle or high school, a daily read aloud might consist of a current news article, a magazine article, an internet article or even a biography or diary from the period you are studying. Students love to listen to their teacher read. It is not only informative but also calming and relaxing and reminiscent of the times we spent on our mother’s knee listening to our favorite stories. When people are asked to reflect on what joyful experiences they had during their school years, being read to by the teacher is often on top of many people’s list. For those children who did not have this wonderful, nurturing experience as children, helping children learn the joys of listening to good oral reading is even more important. If you have not used oral reading in your classroom, consider starting with even a poem or very short article. If you have, then keep reading aloud on a daily basis. You just may become the teacher that your students remember long after the ink on the graduation diploma has faded.