Why Do Schools Have Summer Break?

I miss many things about being a kid. Things like not having to pay bills, being able to sleep in until noon, and it not being weird that I have gone more than two presidential terms without having a girlfriend.

But the one thing I miss most from my childhood is summer break.

Summer break, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. Similar to grace, summer break is best described as amazing.

Remember that feeling of the last day of school? A feeling so great it inspired a weird dude in makeup to write a song.

If summer break is so amazing, why is it exclusive to school? Why doesn’t every field get to take a couple of months off between June and August? Let’s find out…

Wonder Why Wednesday: Why Do Schools Have Summer Break?

For the longest time, people thought the answer to this question was farming. People attributed summer break to the belief that families and children had to work on their farms.

But that is not correct.

Yes, kids in rural area were needed to lend an extra hand during the busy season on the farm, but not in the summer. Planting season was in spring and harvesting season was in fall. There was no extra work to be found in the dog days of summer.

So why the break?

In the mid-1800s, many U.S. schools stayed open all year long. That is until education experts and doctors began to conclude that too much schooling created stress on kids. Organizers decided it would be best to take a summer break to give students time away from class and time to recover from any stress they may be feeling.

So why summer?

Three reasons: temperature, travel and training.

  1. Temperature – breaking news…summer is hot. Today it is not so bad because we can turn up our AC to full blast. But that wasn’t the case in the 1800s. Rather than force students, and teachers, to bake like a toasted cheeser in a schoolhouse without air conditioning, it was decided these 100 degree days would be better spent a home (where I can only assume they also didn’t have AC).
  2. Travel – even back then, families took summer vacations. And so did teachers. With so many people already traveling from June to August, it made sense to have summer as the designated break period.
  3. Training – In the 19th century, teachers rarely went to college or needed certification. In order to be prepared, they received some training that took place in the summer. Creating a summer break gave teachers more time to train and get ready for the next year.



Sources: CNN, State Impact

Photo credit: Wikipedia