This post is a guest blog from Ruth Thomas, Lower School Literacy Specialist, who shares some thoughtful ideas about ways parents and other adults can help inspire students to read, write, listen, speak, and create during the summer months.

When I took calculus in college, my mother gave me some good advice, “Sit next to the smart kid. Talk to her, listen to her, learn from her.

Well, when it comes to thinking about what motivates students to continue to use reading as a tool for learning during the summer, I have been listening to some very smart kids: nine very smart kids, ages 10-19, who are sharing their expertise via TED Talks on the internet.

As I listen to them enthusiastically share about various topics from cancer research to gaming apps, I am mesmerized by their ability to articulate their knowledge. Each talk, each smart kid, is an advertisement of all the components of literacy: speaking, listening, reading and writing.

They have inspired me to reflect on the ways that their parents motivated them to read and to learn all year long. During each TED Talk, the smart kids incidentally referenced four distinct ways that parents and other adults inspired them to persist in the tasks of literacy that fed their areas of expertise.

These parents and other adults, who are significantly involved in the lives of the students, continue to do each of the following:

  • Nurture students’ unique interests and passions

  • Foster student ownership for seeking more information about a topic in a variety of ways

  • Champion self-efficacy in personal pursuits

  • Support social interactions with others who are interested in similar subjects

These nine very impressive kids are following their passion, owning their learning, persisting with challenging tasks and sharing their expertise through social media. Their parents motivated them to read, learn, share and change the world.

Please listen to this TED Talk,  have a happy summer of reading, and remember to sit next to the smart kids.

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