Research shows that students retain less information over the summer and score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation. Studies also show that physical fitness – in addition to continued learning during the summer – helps children retain more information and improve their scores.
John Ratey, a Harvard clinical associate professor of psychiatry, argues for more physical fitness for students as a cure for obesity but also a means to improve their academic performance. “I cannot underestimate how important regular exercise is in improving the function and performance of the brain,” Ratey writes. “Exercise stimulates our gray matter to produce Miracle-Gro for the brain.”
This Summer, sit down with your children and review the material they learned during the school year – but be sure to break it up with plenty of fun outdoor activities. And remember: Staying fit also helps children academically but also mentally and socially so they’ll become well-rounded adults.
To support you, Summer Fit Learning has compiled this list of “Summer Learning and Health Facts.” Review these with your children and keep them in mind as you take your family on a fun summer journey to lifelong health and learning.
Summer Learning and Health Facts
• Research shows students score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do at the beginning of the summer. White, 1906; Heyns, 1978; Entwisle & Alexander 1992; Cooper, 1996; Downey et al, (2004).
• Regular exercise reduces depression and improves self-esteem in overweight children. Petty, K., et al., (2008)
• Most students lose about two months of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation skills over the summer months. Cooper, (1996).
• Children lose more than academic knowledge over the summer. Most children—particularly children at high risk of obesity—gain weight more rapidly when they are out of school during summer break. Von Hippel et al, (2007)
• Parents consistently cite summer as the most difficult time to ensure that their children have productive things to do. Duffett et al, (2004)
• Research shows that children gain weight three times faster during the summer months, gaining as much weight during the summer as they do during the entire school year, even though the summertime is three times shorter. Von Hippel, P. T., Powell, B., Downey, D.B., & Rowland, N. (2007).