Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Summer Holidays - what to do, and why do we have them?

The long summer holiday is approaching fast, for some it has already started! What are your plans this Summer? How many weeks do you have to fill?

Are you the sort of person who likes to keep busy, or are you looking forward to chilling out and relaxing?

Dorothy and friends are off to North Norfolk soon, and are very excited. For those of you staying home, here are some ideas to keep you busy!
  1. Visit your local park. Some host activity days in the summer too. 
  2. Take a swim at your local pool, many have special events on over the summer.
  3. Check out local museums - most have special summer activities.
  4. Join your local library - they often run a Summer Reading Challenge too!
  5. Keep a diary showing all your summer activities.
  6. Check out this article with your parents for some brilliant stay-at-home fun.
  7. There will be many holiday clubs and camps locally, not all are expensive. 
  8. Local sports centres have holiday sports courses - often subsidised by your Council.
  9. NetMums have a lovely long list of activities here
  10. Do you have any landmark sites or stately homes near you? All National Trust and English Heritage properties run holiday activities. 

  11. If you live anywhere near Northamptonshire check out History Live! THIS WEEKEND!
Over the weekend of 19 and 20 July, visitors to Kelmarsh Hall can cheer on their chosen gladiator champion, meet a flying ace and his biplane, see lances splinter and discover the sights and smells of a Viking encampment. It's all part of History Live!, the biggest living history festival in the country, where over 2,000 re-enactors and performers will bring English history alive, from Roman times through to the Second World War.

Or, you could give a little time each day to keep those Maths and English skills going with a Twinkl Resources subscription! It's a well known fact that children take a couple of weeks to catch up after their long summer break. This has led some to challenge the need for a long summer break.

Why DO we have such a long summer holiday?

You may think it's so you can enjoy the summer weather - but you would be wrong! The long summer holiday started when education became compulsory for children. Before the 1870 Education Act children the government did not fund schools. Children did not have to go to school - or be educated at home. Many worked long hours in factories, coal mines, or on the land. There was a lot of opposition to the Education Act because families said they needed the income their children brought home, without that extra money many families said they would be homeless, or simply starve.

Schools in Victorian England

At the start of Queen Victoria's Reign few children went to school, and they grew up unable to read or write. Church Registers (records) of marriages show that only half of the people who married could sign their names!

The government did not run any schools. Some people ran schools in their homes. Larger schools, called Charity Schools were built and run by wealthy people who wanted children to learn about God and Jesus. Children needed to be able to read to read the Bible and learn from it. These schools were for the very poor though, and were known as "ragged schools".

There is lots of information on the BBC site about Victorian schools

State Provision

The Government set up a system of school boards in the 1870 Education Act with money from local rates to run schools. In 1880 school became compulsory between the ages of 5 and 10. (This was extended to 11, and then 12 and remained unchanged until the 1930s just before the Second World War!) Most children left school by the age of ten, since their families needed them to earn money, and could no longer afford the few pence charged per week in fees.

Summer "Holidays"

When deciding how many days children should be in school holidays were first decided on the basis of public holidays. So Christmas was a school holiday and also Easter. To help families in the countryside a long summer break was put in place so that children could help bring in the harvest. And so the Summer Holiday was known as the "Harvest Break". It was never intended as a "Holiday" but time for children to work rather than learn! 

Even after the Second World War, when your grandparents were growing up, many city children and their families went to stay on farms to help earn some money bringing in the harvest. "Hop Picking holidays" in Kent are very well known, hops are used to make beer and London families would have holidays in the countryside - but not a rest. It was very hard work!

Many people - teachers and parents argue that the long summer holiday is too long. Children forget what they have learned and slip backwards, and today few children help on the land! Holiday prices such as aeroplane flights are so much more expensive in the summer too, as everyone wants to get away at the same time.

Dorothy Asks:-

  • What do YOU think? Is the summer holiday too long? 
  • Do you run out of things to do? 
  • Would you like shorter terms - or more frequent breaks?
  • Do you think your parents would agree with you?

Whatever you get up to this summer - be sure to have lots of fun!

Don't forget! Dorothy Whiskers is offering a year's platinum subscription to Twinkl Resources to keep the kids busy over the summer! Click here to enter the Giveaway!

Linking with -
 photo letkidsbekidslogobadge_zps424b7d61.jpg


  1. In many ways it's nice to have a long break over the summer, have some fun, enjoy the weather, spend time as a family, however, 6 weeks can be a long time for some. I am looking forward to some time with my children, but I may not be so keen in a few weeks time ;)
    Thanks for linking #letKidsBeKids

  2. I think it is great for kids to have a long summer break. Lots of time for family fun x

  3. The historical information was very interesting. I'm in 2 minds over the holidays. It's good for the kids to have a long time to relax and just enjoy being children without the pressures of education. On the other hand the way that holiday companies increase their prices so dramatically puts a holiday away out of the price range of many and now if you take a holiday in term time you are fined!

  4. Having older kids I love the holidays, its a time to stop rushing around and regroup. We are off to our holiday home in Devon and I cannot wait for some family timexxx

  5. Great ideas, it can seem to drag. Can't imagine what it's like for my sister in the USA when they have a 3 month summer holiday!! #letkidsbekids

  6. Six weeks is a lonnnnng time, I agree. We're looking forward to our holiday but finding things to do each week can be tough.

  7. As my husbeast comes from a farming family he is all too aware of just how busy the summer holidays were work wise. I think the boys would be happy with four weeks as would I

  8. I do think it would be better for the time off to be in the winter when it's dark, everyone gets ill, etc.
    Very interesting post.

  9. long summer holidays are the best - I used to love them when I was a child.

  10. That's so interesting! I never knew the history of it. I found the summer holidays so boring as a child. But I hated school too so...

  11. Really informative - and lots of great ideas too!

  12. This is really interesting and just goes to show how out dated the concept of the summer holiday is. It's far too long. Because my son finished his GCSE's this year he's been at home forever! It's not good for them, but we are trying really hard to fill his time ;-)

  13. I didn't know that was the history of the School Summer Holidays - I was riveted reading that thank you.
    I would be gutted though if they shortened the holidays.
    Liska x

  14. Actually compering English summer holidays to Polish one, they are short ;-)
    Polish kids enjoy summer freedom a bit longer.

  15. My daughter's school had 4 weeks for the summer but they have 2 week half terms which means you can have a decent family holiday outside the more 'traditional' summer holiday times!

  16. Here in France the summer holidays are at least 8 weeks long (and sometimes longer depending which class a child in is) - it is very long and to be honest I would rather have it shorter holidays coupled with shorter days - the secondary school day is from 7.50am to 4.35pm.

  17. I used to love summer, even if it just meant playing at the park with my friends. Hope you have a wonderful summer :) x

  18. How did I not know about history alive?! I live in Northamptonshire and this sounds great!
    Love the history lesson too - learn something new every day x

  19. I would love to see the holidays spread more evenly across the year - we like to keep ours filled full of activities

  20. I must say I love the summer holidays but I can see how it wouldn't work for full time working mums. I do think kids needs the break, I can always see how mine start to tire in the summer term. Maybe shorter terms would be better though


Thank you for commenting!
Dorothy xx