Here’s an easy way to explain the extra day to your kid

“What is leap year?” If you’ve heard that recently, and you’re wondering how to explain to your kiddos why there’s one extra day every four years, we’ve got easy answers. It’s simple (especially if they know how to count): Leap Year is all about keeping the calendar in sync with how long it takes Planet Earth to completely orbit the sun. And fun fact: It takes more than 365 days.

The earth takes almost six more hours to make its way around the sun. Add up those extra hours, and every four years, there’s an extra day on the calendar, which is where February 29th comes from.

The story of Leap Year goes way back to Julius Caesar, who added an extra day to February (this was the last month of the year in Roman times) over 2,000 years ago. However, his math wasn’t precise, and it wasn’t corrected until the Georgian calendar, which has a mathematical formula that keeps leap years in check. Yep, that means not every four years is necessarily a leap year! In layman’s terms, if the year is divisible by 100 but not 400, it’s not a leap year (e.g. 1900).

What does this mean if we didn’t have Leap Year? Well, dates would slowly shift, and eventually, the seasons would be way off. That could mean celebrating the 4th of July in the dead of winter!

And remember, while people born in February might be Leap Year babies, they can still celebrate on February 28th or March 1st!

Related: 100+ Fun Facts for Kids They’ll Want to Know


Your daily dose of joy and connection
Get the Tinybeans app