More Than Half of K-12 Parents Relieved Summer Vacation Is Over

by Joseph Carroll

Relieved because their kids are bored, should be learning


PRINCETON, NJ -- School-aged children across the country are already mournful about the end of summer, as they head back to the hallways for a new school year. But how do their parents feel about their kids going back to school -- are they in a celebratory mood (as some television commercials suggest) or are they sad to see the vacation end?

A recent Gallup Panel survey, conducted Aug. 23-26, asked a nationally representative sample of parents with children in kindergarten through 12th grade for their feelings on the end of summer vacation. A slight majority of parents, 53%, say they are "relieved that summer vacation is over," while 42% say they "wish summer vacation would last longer."

It would make sense if working parents were more likely than other parents to be relieved, because the former wouldn't have to worry as much about child-care arrangements. But that is not the case -- among the subgroup of parents in two-income families, 55% say they are relieved that summer vacation is over, and 40% say they wish it would last longer.

The poll also asked parents to explain, in their own words, some of the reasons why they are relieved that summer vacation is over. The results show that parents are much more likely to mention things that would benefit their children (such boredom or the need to learn) rather than things that would benefit the parents (such as child-care expenses or it simply being easier on them).

What are some of the reasons why you are relieved summer vacation is over?


2007 Aug 23-26


Kids are bored/need to be doing something


Kids need to be learning/developing educational skills


Get kids back into a routine/structure


Easier on parents


Better to have them in school


Should have year-round school


Children like/love school


Expense of child care/day care





No opinion


Percentages add to more than 100% due to multiple responses.

These results are based on 141 parents who say they are relieved that summer vacation is over (margin of sampling error is ±10 percentage points).

As the table shows, 29% of parents who are relieved summer vacation is over say it is because their children are bored and need something to do, while 26% say their children need to be learning and developing their educational skills. Fewer than one in five say they are relieved because the beginning of school gets their kids back into a routine or structure (18%), that it is easier on the parents (16%), or that it is better to have children in school (10%). Even fewer mention that kids should be enrolled in year-round schools, that their children enjoy school, and that child care or day care is expensive.

Survey Methods

Results for this panel study are based on telephone interviews with 1,001 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Aug. 23-26, 2007. Respondents were drawn from Gallup's household panel, which was originally recruited through random selection methods. The final sample is weighted so it is representative of U.S. adults nationwide. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.

For results based on the sample of 270 parents with children in grades K-12, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±7 percentage points.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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