Why Do Students Get Summers Off?

Answer: To Escape the City Heat

A lot of people think the reason kids get summer vacation is because, back in the day, their families needed them to work on the farm. For someone who wasn’t alive in the 1800s, this theory probably sounds one-hundred percent true. In fact, summer vacation has little to do with farms, and almost everything to do with cities. Before the Civil War, children raised on farms never had summers off.

They went to school during the hottest and coldest months, staying home in the spring and fall to help plant and harvest crops. In cities, however, kids went to school essentially all-year round. In 1842, Detroit’s academic year lasted 260 days. At the same time, school wasn’t mandatory, so during these months parents took their children to the countryside to escape the heat so classrooms were being left half empty. This trend continued, and evolved into the academic schedule we know today, with roughly 9 months of school and 3 months off during the summer. Mental Floss explains why a few other factors helped engrain this annual clock into the American lifestyle. Is there any way adults can start doing this too?