Have you ever wondered how “Summer Vacation” came to be?

In the United States, summer vacation lasts two to three months. The dates vary depending on the location of the school district but generally follow the same schedules; most schools in the Northeastern United States end in June and start the Wednesday after Labor Day (the first Monday in September, with teachers reporting back on Tuesday), while the majority of schools in the Southern United States have schools end in May and start again in August.

While the origins of the summer holiday break are often believed to be rooted in agriculture and the idea children were needed to assist with planting and harvesting crops, this is inaccurate. Most crops were planted in the spring and harvested in the fall.

The modern school calendar has its roots in 19th century school reform movements seeking standardization between urban and rural areas. Up until the mid-1800s, most schools were open for a winter and summer term. As individual schools merged into school districts and bureaucracies emerged to manage the newly formed school districts, school leaders and politicians identified a need to standardize calendars across regions. This standardization was related to the emerging tax structures, laws around compulsory education, as well as a general sentiment that school should be an essential component of American childhood.

As the calendar was standardized across regions, school leaders took cues from a variety of factors, including attendance rates and the difficulty cooling school buildings. Many upper class families left the city for cooler climates in the hot Northeast summer months, and as such schools cancelled their summer sessions due to low daily attendance. As train travel became more affordable, middle class families followed similar patterns, keeping their children home during the hottest months of the year or going away for a summer vacation. In addition to the heat and low attendance, many school leaders advocated for breaks so that students and teachers could rest their brains. Many 19th and early 20th century Americans educators believed that too much learning was bad for one’s health and could result in injury. This was particularly true of younger children whose minds were still developing. The extended summer break was seen as a way for children and their teachers to rest and recover. In many places, teachers would use the summer months for their own learning and professional development.

For more about Summer Vacation, visit Wikipedia