Why do we have summer vacation?
Have you ever heard the story that the reason why school children get summer vacation is so that they could help their families on their farms working the fields? That seems to be the story that many people have heard over the years, but this story is an urban legend. I was just as surprised as you are. It seemed so plausible.
As it turns out, young people all over the United States can be thankful to city kids in our very own Detroit, MI. Before the Civil War, farm kids were off in the spring and fall to help plant and harvest the fields. As more people moved into cities all that brick and concrete made for hot summers. This resulted in middle- and upper-class city families to seek cooler temperatures in the country. In the mid-19th century, school attendance wasn’t mandatory, so classrooms were half full in the summer.
Michigan legislators decided if you couldn’t beat them everyone should join them. By the turn of the century, city schools cut 60 days out of the year for vacation time. Rural schools soon followed, and summer vacation was born for school children across the country.