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TIG Insider Newsletter  June 4, 2012
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Summer Vacation Facts

Schools are almost out and summer vacation will begin! Most kids look forward to spending time at pools, beaches, grandparents’ homes, and summer camp. But summer vacation wasn’t always the escape that today’s US schoolchildren have come to expect.

In the early 1800s, schools were year-round. Urban schools had only one break per quarter. The 11-month school year provided immigrant families with a safe place to send their children while they worked. Rural schools had long breaks in the spring and fall to allow the kids to help with planting and harvests. Summer vacation wasn’t heard of! (However, education wasn’t mandatory like it is today so only about 30% of students attended all year.)

Then along came Horace Mann, the great education reformer. He worried that overstimulating the minds of children could lead to mental breakdowns and insanity. So in the 1840s, the summer break was created. The solution made teachers happy because they got a break, and it made doctors happy because they were concerned about children spreading disease while packed into sweltering classrooms.


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