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Help Your Kids Survive Summer Vacation

PHOTO: Battle the summer couch potato syndrome by keeping kids involved in activities and reading to them. Photo credit: Deborah C. Smith
PHOTO: Battle the summer couch potato syndrome by keeping kids involved in activities and reading to them. Photo credit: Deborah C. Smith
June 10, 2013

RALEIGH, N.C. - School is out for summer - or soon will be. Many parents are concerned: They don't want their school-age children to just become couch potatoes for three months.

The medical director of Reach Out and Read Wisconsin, Dr. Dipesh Navsaria, suggested that parents plan a summertime program of reading and diverse activities for their kiddos.

"Almost any type of reading will help their fluency and their vocabulary and things of that nature," Navsaria said. "Choosing a mix of activities that might help them learn reasoning, problem-solving skills and those types of things is also important."

Too much of any one thing, whether it's soccer, music or science, can be a bad thing, Navsaria said, adding that reading is critically important and takes many forms.

"Even those who are reading off of screens of some sort, whether it's e-books or web pages, are still decoding text. They're still reading. Many kids are still very interested in reading, and families are interested in reading. If anything, we've seen upswings in library usage in the last decade," he said.

Many think that with the advent of video games, kids don't like to read, but Navsaria said that's wrong. Just as he recommended a balance of diverse summertime physical activities for children, so Navsaria recommended a diverse selection of reading material. And there's nothing wrong with comic books, he added.

"There's actually lots of good vocabulary," he pointed out. "There's sometimes good role modeling and other aspects to it. We shouldn't just say 'oh, that's comic books, that's not somehow worthy.'"

The doctor practices what he preaches: Each time he meets with a child in his clinical practice, Navsaria gives the youngster a brand new, high-quality book to take home, read and keep.

Stephanie Carroll Carson/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - NC