Why Do Students Get Summers Off?

School’s out, and life suddenly gets more complicated for someone who works at home. Every year, I wonder why kids get the summer off. You may have been told long ago that it’s an agricultural thing, because farm kids worked the crops during the summer. That doesn’t make much sense, since the real work of growing crops is planting, which is done by the time school is out, and harvesting, which happens after school starts in the fall. That explanation is a myth.

Before the Civil War, farm kids never had summers off. They went to school during the hottest and coldest months and stayed home during the spring and fall, when crops needed to be planted and harvested. Meanwhile, city kids hit the books all year long—summers included. In 1842, Detroit’s academic year lasted 260 days!

The summer school vacation evolved in phases, and you can read the whole story of how it happened at mental_floss.

(Image credit: Flickr user bass_nroll)

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