Here comes summer and 11 weeks of school holidays. Tell me, where’s the joy in that? | Emma Brockes squib

The gap between my children’s experience in the US and my own unreliable memories of the long break is a source of anxiety

The school summer holidays in the US fall on different dates according to where in the country you live, but they have one characteristic in common. In New York, where we are into our third week, the summer stretches endlessly before us, way beyond the six-week period of the British system. Last year, through a combination of Covid and the early falling of Yom Kippur, public schools in New York closed for three months in the summer. This year, we’re back to the standard 11-week break, in line with the rest of the US – a curtailment for which we’re supposed be grateful.

I’m not grateful, obviously. Eleven weeks is an enormously long time to fill, even with the generous free summer camp provisions laid on by the city. It pushes parental resources to the absolute brink, and interferes with all the rosy ideas one used to have about summer. When holidays drag on this long, they turn from opportunities to relax into onslaughts to be weathered, something even the kids – parked in various facilities between 9am and 6pm daily, like tiny adults holding down tough summer jobs – start to feel after a few weeks.

Emma Brockes is a Guardian columnist based in New York

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