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Taking Kids Out of School for Vacation?

Tips for Taking Kids Out of School for a Family Vacation StuffedSuitcase.com #travel #tips

Taking Kids Out of School for a Vacation

Today is a beautiful day in Seattle. We’re looking at having a full week of glorious sunny days and warm temps. Anyone familiar with Seattle (even the Pacific Northwest) knows that this is a rare event. Late spring, summer, and early fall bring beautiful weather to this part of the country. However, the other six months of the year can be gloomy and downright depressing.

One of the results of this weather pattern is that we don’t want to travel in the summer. We’ve got beaches, mountains, lakes, ferries, islands, and parks aplenty to visit in the wonderful summer weather. Which leads us to save our travel escapades for the gloomy times. The unfortunate reality is these gloomy dates happen to coincide with the public school calendar. So, the question then becomes,

“Is it okay to take my kids out of school for vacation?”

Early on, this wasn’t a problem for us because the girls weren’t in school at the time (or just in preschool). But next fall they’ll both be in school full time. So far with Grace, we’ve had excellent communication with her teachers and she’s been academically strong in her lessons. This has made it smooth and simple to have her miss school for a week to take a family vacation. Having a few homework activities and a book to read during travels also helps keep her practicing whatever skills she’s been working on in class. Of course, if one of our girls starts to struggle academically or if the work load is too much to miss as they get older, we’ll have to rethink things.

Another huge benefit of taking kids out of school for vacation is that we can typically score better pricing for our vacations. Prices are generally higher in the summer months because many people travel then, but in the off seasons you can find lots of airfare and hotel deals. Crowds at popular tourist spots are typically lighter during the off-season as well. However, there is another side to that with the possibility of some attractions closing in the off-season or offering limited hours/schedules.

If you’re considering traveling during the school year, the biggest tip I can give is to talk with your child’s teacher right away. Let them know what you’re considering and if they think your child would be okay. The other tip is to be willing to help your child practice some school lessons during your trip. If you’re creative, you could even create activities tailored to your vacation spot. A few ideas:

  • keep a travel journal (practice writing skills)
  • keep track of receipts for the day and tally how much was spent (math)
  • print off a map and draw out the route; could add distance/time math (geography)
  • read a book – look for a fiction or non-fiction book based around your destination (reading/history)

Do you have any opinions or tips on how you balance school and teacher expectations with the desire to travel with your family during the school year?

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Comments

  1. I went back and forth with this on our recent trip to Disney World. I decided that 2 days wouldn’t hurt, especially for a kindergartner, and that I would not want him to miss a great experience.

    • Deanna, sorry for the late reply! I volunteer in my daughter’s kindergarten class and one child was gone for 2 weeks for a trip. :o. But, she came back and is doing fine and the teacher thought nothing of it. I think it’s in the later grades where you have to really be conscientious of the impact a trip will have on your child’s schooling. Getting out of your normal routine is good for us though, and I wrote about that in one of my early posts, .
      Hope your trip to DW was great! We’ve yet to go (we did a runDisney race in Nov 2012, but didn’t visit the parks)!

  2. I’m all for family vacations anytime! In the big picture what is a few weeks, when you have the opportunity to make amazing family memories, & enrich your life in so many ways! Yes, it does take a huge amount of planning & prep time but so far I’ve found that the classwork can be done on the plane or in filler moments when the child is bored. I’m not sure how it will be in the upper grades but for now my daughter has became the travel reporter and has shared her experiences with the class. (she’s in 3rd grade now so well see) :) Michelle

    • Michelle, I’m glad you’ve found a way to balance travel with school. I agree that when our girls get into the higher grades, things might be a little more difficult!

  3. Hi Kim, Thank you so much for your write up! It came at a perfect time as we are about to leave for 3 weeks to Mexico with our two children. I love the receipt idea!! It’s perfect as I already talk to the kids about budget and debunking their myth that we have an endless cashflow from the bank. As for taking kids out of school, my son missed Kindergarten entirely and half of first grade because he was going through cancer treatment; he is now in third grade and doing great. So for anyone worrying whether or not kids will catch up… I strongly believe that if you are the type of parent who even ‘think’ about it, your child will do just fine! Again thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks so much for stopping by Jenica! What a great comment! I hope your little guy is doing well now. How great that you’re traveling with your kids and building memories together. It’s such a fun and great thing! Where about in Mexico are you heading? We really enjoyed our trip to Cancun, although we learned quick not to travel with our “monster cadillac” stroller again! :) Best wishes & safe travels!

  4. Vacations are wonderful learning experiences! Education can take place anywhere – not just in the classroom. I taught school for 15 years and now write educational material for the traveling kiddo.

    First – talk to the teacher. As soon as you have a trip planned, tell the teacher. Remind them as the year goes on. By the time the school year starts we have our spring trip planned.

    Second – ask what subject material will be covered – not just which worksheets will be done.

    Third – meet with the teacher – no emails or texts, as the trip nears. Take notes on what subjects will be covered and what expectations the teacher will have on what has to be done while you are gone. Do you really need to do all the worksheets on fractions or does your child just need to demonstrate knowledge of fractions. Be as specific as you can.

    Fourth – ask for substitutions. So, the class will be writing a 3 page story on how to make pancakes. Can your child write about how to make paella? They will be reading Charlotte’s Web. Can your child read Don Quiote instead since you are headed to Spain? Will the travel journal suffice for writing?

    Fifth – offer to blog/write postcards/or email photos during your trip to teach the class a little of what you are learning.

    Enjoy your trip – and making memories!

    Miss ET
    theeducationaltourist.com

    • Hi Miss ET! Thanks for adding your thoughts! I’m always thankful for teachers who are understanding of our family vacations, and do my best to support them in their role as my child’s school educator.

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