Read & Recreation - just as important as the other R&R


Whew! Can you believe we have made another wonderful school year? Although the fiscal year runs until June 30, the all-important “last day for students” was Wednesday, May 31. It seems only yesterday we were in August and school was just beginning. It is amazing how time flies when you are having fun.

I bet I can ask you to describe what you did during your “summer vacations” when you were in school and you would say things like (1) go visit relatives, (2) go to the beach or the mountains, but I bet one of the most likely responses was (3) play outside with my friends and family.

Have you ever heard the term “R & R?” It stands for “Rest and Relaxation.”  I certainly think our students have earned some “R & R,” don’t you?

 I hope each student’s summer vacation is fun. I guarantee one thing it will fly by…but just to keep learning at the front of every day in the summer I want to ask parents to consider a second set of initials for “R & R.”

The first “R” is “Read.” Everyday! Make sure you read with or to your child if you are a parent and at least thirty minutes a day if you are a student. The biggest need in our district is for students to be daily readers. Don’t let the summer be a time when students avoid reading. Make it an expectation. Good readers are usually very good students. Trust me, it does a mind good!

Statistics on summer reading include:

Low-income children, by the end of fifth grade, are about 2.5 years behind their more affluent peers. This is primarily due to summer learning loss.

Students experience significant learning loss when they do not participate in educational activities during the summer months. Research shows that students on average score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer than they do on the same tests at the end of the school year. Low-income students experience greater summer learning losses than their higher income peers. On average, middle-income students experience slight gains in reading performance during summer vacation. Low-income students experience about a two month loss in reading achievement.

The achievement gap in reading scores between higher and lower income students increases over summer vacation. The research shows that achievement for both middle-and lower-income students improves at a similar rate during the school year.

Reading just 4-5 books during the summer can prevent a decline in a child's fall reading scores.

Summer reading loss is cumulative, these children do not typically catch up in the fall. Their peers are progressing with their skills while they are making up for the summer learning loss. By the end of 6th grade, children who lose reading skills during the summer are on average 2 years behind their peers.

Teachers spend an average of 4-6 weeks re-teaching material that students have lost during the summer. 


The second “R” is “Recreation.” Again, everyday! This word means “get active, move around, and be physically fit.” When I was young, summers were meant for activity. Now unfortunately many students either stayed glued to the television, their iPhone, or their computer. Some of that is good…but nothing beats getting out and being active. Trust me, it does a body good!

Statistics on student inactivity during summer break include:

Kids watched an average of 20 more minutes of television per day over the summer than during the school year and consumed about three more ounces of sugary drinks. 

Overall, exercise levels remained about the same throughout the year, with barely five more minutes a day of activity during vacation, though high school students were significantly more active in the summer. 

However, they still didn't meet standard government recommendations. 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says children and teens should get at least 60 minutes a day of physical activity.


 So everyone’s summer assignment is “Get some much needed R & R.” Yep, that means rest and relaxation but it also means read and recreation.

 Make it a great summer! Get up, get a book, get active, and get going.

The choice is yours.

(Dr. David O’Shields is superintendent of Laurens School District 56.)


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