• Fri, Feb 2 2007

Taking kids out of school early for vacation

trip.gifSometimes, when one or both parents work, taking a vacation with the family can be a challenge.

School aged kids with busy schedules make vacation planning even harder, and, often it seems like you just have to get out of town or take time off whenever you can.

But, what if “whenever you can” coincides with a school day?

Some people may take the kids out of school early to get a head start on a trip. Or, they may even plan the entire vacation during school time, and, take the kids out for a week or more.

I have a friend who plans a Disney vacation each fall because the park “isn’t as crowded”. She takes her children out of school for a week at a time because they can “always make up the work later”. I don’t get it, but, it’s only recently that they’ve quit doing it because the kids are older.

In addition to being disruptive to a classroom, I think it’s a bad example to set for children, school is for when it’s “convenient”. Also, I wonder how the older ones ever really catch up in school, even if they take their work with them.

I believe that as long as school is in session (barring any emergency or illness, of course) I believe that children of any age who are in school should be there. Period. We don’t skip half days for anything, either.

What about you?

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  • http://maliakcarden.blogspot.com malia

    I don’t think I’d ever do it for an entire week. A Friday or Monday to accomodate a long weekend or for extra traveling time right before a scheduled break (i.e. Spring, Winter breaks) is fine.

    I remember when I was in 6th grade, we were living in TX and my grandparents lived in CA. The grandparents arranged and paid for our family of four to fly to CA for Christmas. This would have been in the mid-80′s, so that was a huge deal. In order to get the right flight times and have enough travel/visit time, I got out of school before winter break a couple of days early. But I had to finish and turn in all my school work before hand. I remember staying after school one day to deliver an oral report to my teacher since I would not be in class on the day the were due.

    I guess since I think family time is important and that kids need to be kids as much as possible, I’m fine with an occassional day off for those types of purposes. I wouldn’t do a whole week, that’s a bit much. And I wouldn’t do it in such a way that the kids came to expect it, if that makes any sense. I would do it when/if I felt that it enhanced and prioritized our time together.

  • Chris

    On paper, the kid’s former school was very supportive of taking kids out of school. As long as the request was made at least two weeks in advance, teachers would prepare materials that could be done while on the trip and turned in on return. It worked out great in the early years when we took her to Disneyland one March, but in middle school the teachers were very uncooperative (about providing advance assignments and inflexible (about turning in assignments that had not been provided). I think that travel, when done right and not too frequently, can be as enriching as the classroom.

  • http://tripleventi.com JayMonster

    I am somewhere in the middle on this. I am not a big fan of the full week thing, but if the work can be made up, I guess it is not all that bad a thing.

    However, something like taking a child out of school for a week to go to Disney World (or Disneyland, or any such type of place), be honest for a moment and ask yourself, how much is a child going to want to “work” during that week, and even if they can get “everything” done (and some teachers I know even when a child is sick, REALLY PILE IT ON, when then send home work), how much of that will be retained in that setting.

    On the third side of that coin, with schools seeming to open earlier and earlier and closing later and later (because of so many “In Service” and half days and other things that make them string out the year), it is getting more difficult to find that “convenient” time for a vacation.

    I think in the end I agree with malia, it probably is not as bad with a day or two (Friday or Monday for a long weekend), but I think I would shy away from a full lost school week. But can understand those that do it.

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  • http://sistasmiff.typepad.com sista smiff

    Taking a vacation, period, for us, whether it’s during summer or school, is challenging for us. The husband’s schedule is so retarded with summer being the busiest time of year. If I had to, I’d take them out a day or two, but, even then….I’d be hesitant now that mine are older and would miss a lot just by missing a day.

  • carolyn

    A day or two at most. Never a whole week in the middle of the year. Besides, if I did give in and take them on some kind of fabulous vacation mid-year, I’d never hear the end of it. they’d use it as an excuse for the rest of their lives. Not worth it!

  • Lisa

    I respectfully disagree. With our busy lives these days — work, after school activities, etc. it is hard to spend “quality time” together as a family without getting away once a year. Now, things may change a bit when my son is older and his classes are more challenging, but for now, I think the experiences of traveling as a family outweigh the downside to missing a few days of school. My husband and I took my 1st grader out of school this year for the MLK week (which amounted to 4 days off). We went to Beaver Creek for skiing, and my son had such a great time, he said it was better than Disneyland! Overall it was a GREAT family vacation that we will all remember for a long time. And yes, we did let his teacher know in advance and yes, he did all of his work while out. Upon return, he had to take the tests given on Friday. He has a great, understanding teacher and I did not feel guilty at all.

  • http://sasymom.blogspot.com Truvy

    I don’t disagree with you in theory. We haven’t gotten to this point yet, so I don’t actually know what we will end up doing. I do remember that in my life, there were times that I was having a rough time at school and on a rare occasion my mom would look at me and grin and say “Lets go shopping at the beach!” It was a great time for us, and as a grumpy hormonal teen it helped us. I want to be able to do the same thing for my own kids when the time calls for it. I think you just have to be responsible about it, make sure classes are made up, no test that day… etc.
    All that said, I always thought the Perfect Attendance award was a crock. ;)

  • http://www.wearyparent.com Char

    I think this falls into the “must be made on a case by case basis” category.

    In September we took all three kids out of school for one whole week to travel to Ireland for my Grandparent’s 60th Wedding Anniversary. It was a once in a life time event and my kids learned more about the world, life, travel, current events, etc than they ever would have in school that week.

    Beyond that, we do our best not to schedule family trips during school time, but there are occasions where I have no problem with it.

  • http://www,babylune.com Kate

    Since airlines jack up prices for school breaks, vacations become prohibitive for many families when school is out of session.

    If it was impossible or illegal to take kids out of school, like it is in the UK, then many children who live across the country from their families would never get to see their grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins.

  • http://www.beginningwithi.com/ Deirdré Straughan

    I might not do it just to go to Disneyland, but, as with Char’s Ireland trip, some travel can be more educational than what they’re getting in school.

    Friends came to Italy last spring for two weeks (he had expenses covered, I guess, for a book tour), with their 8-year-old son, for a once-in-a-lifetime family vacation. Surely everything they saw and did in Rome, Florence, etc. was an irreplaceable experience that he could not get in a school in Sacramento!

  • http://www.putzworld.blogspot.com Karen

    How timely, as I’m pulling my kids out of school next week to take a vacation. Think about it– how much do you remember learning in school compared to the memories you have about the vacations you took as a family?

    Life is short– vacations rock! :)

  • http://www.beginningwithi.com/ Deirdré Straughan

    I must confess that a few years ago, when my daughter was failing miserably in a school that was entirely wrong for her, on the spur of the moment I scooped up some frequent flier miles and took her to New York for a week. Her teachers were furious at my “rewarding” her poor performance, but we had a wonderful time (including lots of educational things like museums and “Cabaret”), and she Ross as if she had something to live for after all. And she kept a fantastic illustrated diary of the trip, which her teacher grudgingly agreed was very good, if not quite a replacement for schoolwork.

  • John

    I am planning a trip to California this fall. It is planed for the third week in sepetember. They will have only been in school a few weeks. My oldest son is starting middle school and my youngest will be going into 3rd grade. My mother doesnt think it’s a good idea. Especially for my 11 year old because he will be nervous about starting at a new school. I think it will be a great educaional experience. I am taking them to the San deigo zoo, Seaworld and the tar pits. We also will visit and stay with relatives and drive the Pacific coast highway. They will be keeping journals and bringing school work with them. This will probably be the first and last time I do it, during the school year, but I do see how it would hurt them for say the rest of the school year. Or thier ability to make friends and adjust to the new surroundings. I think it will give them more to talk about and open their eyes seeing some of this great country. I am of the opinion that missing one week of school done right will the educatoin of a lifetime!

  • Lisa

    I must agree with Karen. Life is far to short to worry about missing a week of school over memories with ones family. My parents took me out of school for a week every year to visit my grandparents who lived in Florida. I still passed ever grade, went on to college and did just fine…….I also have wonderful memories of my grandparents who have now passed on.

  • June

    I took my kids out of school for almost 2 wks to go to Australia and New Zealand. We had a great time and we had awesome memories cuz it was the whole familie’s first time in the South Pacific! I don’t have a problem with my kids missing school as long as they have good grades when we leave, and the school has no problem with it…

  • pinkk

    I have a pre-k child that I will be taking out of school for two week in September, and one week in march. I really don’t want her to miss school, but my dh is in the military and we are seeing family. Will it matter if she misses school in pre-k?

  • Savannah

    It is just irresponsible and selfish for parents to take kids out of school for a vacation. It sets a bad precendent for the children showing them it is OK to play hookey – as long as you have your parents permission. Kids get over 4 months off per year for vacation and breaks – cant their parents be less selfish and do it sometime in that 1/3 of the year??

  • Marsha

    We are planning to take our 2 elementary aged school kids to Costa Rica for a week during the last month of the school year. Yes, it would be great if we could wait until summer vacation, however that would be cost prohibitive for us. As my husband put it, he has to make preparations to take time off from work and make sure his responsibilities are covered. Our kids will also make these preparations with regards to their school work and homework responsibilities. That’s how it works in the real, working world when people no longer have nice, long breaks for vacation. Work hard, play hard, make wonderful memories together.

  • Angela St. John

    What do the teachers say to the students whose parent or parents are in the Army and deployed quite often? Most of the time our soldiers do not get to “choose” when they come home for the 2 week R&R. If my husband comes home in October for R&R, I will take my kids out of school for a week to have quality family time, whether we just stay home or if we travel somewhere for vacation. I am all for my kids making up the work they missed when they return, but I don’t think I would want them to do it on vacation, what’s the point of enjoying yourself. I have 3 year old twins right now, and we are taking them to Disney next year in November (they won’t start school that year because their birthday is in November); however, the following year, we will be taking them to on another vacation to Orlando. They will be in Kindergarten at that time. My husband has missed most of their first 3 years of life. I don’t think it is sending the wrong message. I wouldn’t do it past Elementary School though because once they get into Middle and High School, the workload is extreme! We’ll have to figure out somewhere that won’t irritate us during Spring Break and Summer, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there! :)