For years, Jennifer Dresmich, a middle school teacher in
Pittsburgh, saw students come back from summer vacation further
behind than when they left. Lessons from the prior year seemed to
have evaporated under the summer sun. Some students needed weeks,
if not months, of review before they were ready to settle into
their new grade.
Two-thirds of teachers polled in a recent survey said they spend
at least a month reteaching students old material when they
return from summer vacation.
The survey, administered by the National Summer Learning
Association, asked 500 teachers how much time they typically
spend teaching students skills they should have learned and
retained from the previous grade. Nearly a fourth (24 percent)
said at least five to six weeks, while two-thirds claimed at
least three to four.
Repeated studies have shown that when recess is delayed,
children pay less and less attention. They
are more focusedon days when they have recess. A major study
in Pediatrics found that children with more than 15
minutes of recess a day were far better behaved in
class than children who had shorter recess breaks or none at