The Good Old School Calendar

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The school year is revving up again—but why now? The truth is more complicated than you might think.

Most of us grew up thinking the school year includes summer break because, once upon a time, kids helped out all summer on the family farm. But that’s not the whole story, says scholar Kenneth Gold in an article for PBS. In fact, farm kids needed time off for late spring planting and early fall harvest—but they often went to school for at least part of the summer.

City schools led the change in school schedules. Urban schools used to be open in all year round. But attendance wasn’t required, and when it got hot and stifling in the city, families with enough money to get away would leave for summer homes at the beach or in the woods.

In the late 19th century, school reformers pushed for one, standardized school year. They considered lots of options and finally decided on a break that suited both city kids and rural kids. That’s how we got the school year most of know.

Some educators think one long break is a bad idea. They hate the “summer slide” in which kids forget a lot of what they’ve learned. So the school calendar has been getting another look. Some school districts already offer year-round school with small breaks every couple of months.

To help your kids adapt to the school year, try these and other books about starting fresh:

Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney

Pete the Kitty's First Day of Preschool by Kim Dean

The Pigeon Has to Go to School! by Mo Willems

Pizza and Taco: Too Cool for School by Stephan Shaskan

School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex

We Don't Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins

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Sheri Reda
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