As your kids get ready for the upcoming holiday season and holiday breaks, do you wish they had a little more time off before going back to school?  Do you dread the 2 1/2 months of summer where your child's brain shuts off?  One Iowa school district is asking these questions that could be changing the school year calendar.

In Des Moines, parents, teachers, and students are letting their thoughts be known on what a school calendar should look like.  One of the big areas of change stems from having more time off during the year for other religious holidays.   But with more time off during the "normal" year, means less time for summer break.  Des Moines schools would end the school year in mid-June.

The history of summer break.

Many people think summer break started because of farming families needing help on the farm.  This is actually not true.  In the 1800s, classes were mostly conducted during the cold winter months and hot summer months.  The children were needed to help on the farm in the spring for planting and fall for harvest.

It was actually the opposite of farm kids that started the tradition of summer break.  It was city kids.  During this same time, urban populations were growing and air conditioning was not around.  So with the schools so hot in the cities, kids weren't going.  Schools decided not to fight it, and just create the summer break.

What do teachers think?

Having talked with teachers of different learning levels, they stated the pros and cons of longer breaks vs. more frequent breaks.  Most said the long summer break is hard especially on younger students who then need to come back and spend a lot of time "relearning what they did last year".  One teacher told me, "You can really tell the parents that continue to teach their young students over the summer compared to those that don't."  On the other hand when students know a break is coming they also said, "It can be hard to get them to focus the day(s) before the break.".

For parents, finding child care during the year for non-traditional days off can be a challenge. Not all businesses can let parents bring their child to work or let the employee work from home.

With Des Moines being the largest school district in Iowa, any changes made there could be reflected in other communities across the state.

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