Are the summer holidays too long?

A blackboard with the words "Are the summer holidays too long?" written on it.

As I alluded to in my last post, we’re more than ready for the return to routine that comes with the new school year. To be honest, we were probably ready for it a week ago. Now, before we get started, this isn’t a whinge about my children.

Sure, they’ve got on my nerves now and then, but that’s completely normal. No, I count all five of us here. The kids are visibly frustrated too.

Personally, I’ve been of the opinion that the summer holidays are too long for quite a while. Yesterday, I read an article in The Observer which raised a number of interesting points. It only served to reinforce this view.

Did you know, for example, that they’ve lasted for six weeks since Victorian times so that children could help with the harvest? I find it really odd that, although so many things have changed even since my own childhood, this hasn’t.

Obviously, we don’t send children to gather crops anymore so the original raison d’être for the six-week break is obsolete. It has been for decades, so I can only assume that it’s purely down to inertia that it hasn’t been reduced.

As well as the obvious problems of boredom and expense, there are factors that undermine the progress made at school.

Five minutes is a long time for kids, so six weeks must seem like an eternity. Children can fall into bad habits such as not reading enough and even forgetting important things they’ve learned.

They also thrive on routine, so six weeks without one is far from ideal. It makes the return to school something of a shock to the system. No wonder they’re so tired for the first few weeks of the autumn term!

I’ll readily admit that we’ve struggled this summer. We had a lovely holiday as well as a handful of days out, but couldn’t afford to go on as many as we’d have liked to.

Of course, there are plenty of free and cheap things to do, but they tend to be the kind of things that we do all year round.

The fact is, even though we love spending time together, we can’t match the educational stimulation of school for six whole weeks. It’s just too much. Particularly as, like many other parents, I have the small matter of work to fit in.

A few councils are experimenting with a different term-time and holiday structure this academic year which would see a four-week summer break. I, for one, think this is a great idea.

Some may argue that the summer holidays should remain as they are, but not me. We can all make memories at any time of year and a shorter break would be much more manageable. For kids and parents alike.

What do you think? Are the summer holidays too long or are you happy with them as they are?


  1. Enda Sheppard

    Summer hols have got longer and longer for kids here in Ireland. Secondary school kids were off all from the end of May until the end of August (not counting exam classes). This is crazy, for all sorts of reasons, and then we find our local school starting them off gently this week: one three-quarter of an hour induction day and two half-days in the first week. This seems to be to be all about teachers pushing for more and more time off because of stress!!

  2. Lucy At Home

    I’ve not really thought about this. I feel like the summer holidays flew by this year, but we’ve also had years when it’s dragged and been really difficult to keep the kids entertained. I think there’s definitely a good argument to be made for shortening it. I grew up in a poor area where most children didn’t go away on holiday and families didn’t have the money to go out on day trips or treats – that makes it a really difficult time (for the kids AND the parents) so it’s definitely something that should be looked into.

    And this post really struck a chord with someone because they added it to the BlogCrush linky for some extra exposure. Congratulations! Feel free to grab your “I’ve been featured” blog badge if you’d like it. #blogcrush

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