With the summer season comes hot weather, picnics, and family vacations. Most academic years run from September through June, giving students a three-month vacation. Breaks in the school year were instituted in the 19th century, when children went home to help on the family farm for planting and harvesting. By the late 19th century, many schools changed their break to occur over the summer months, in an effort to reduce disease, which spread more easily in the hot weather.
In this edition of That’s History, Jonathan Zimmerman examines the origins of the summer break, the negative impact it has on students, and how some schools are changing their schedule to minimize that effect.