Take the kids out of school for vacation? Yay or Nay?


A few weeks ago on Facebook, another blogger posted this video from the Today Show in which the anchors discussed whether parents should be able to pull their kids out of school for family vacations.  It’s not just that the absences would be considered unexcused, it is actually considered illegal in some states.


As a homeschooling family, I find this debate really compelling.  It seems to me it is one more situation in America where parents are ultimately losing the right to make decisions for their family.  I also find it interesting that we relate merely time in the classroom to the ultimate measure of what is “learned.”  You can be one of the valedictorians of your high school and still have much to learn upon graduation.  (*Cough* Cough* ME *).

I spoke to a few friends of mine that are educators – one in the US and one in Australia.  They feel that taking children away from school creates a difficult scenario for the teachers because oftentimes the kids come back from the trip and are behind in their work and then the parents expect the teacher to catch the child up.   (Oh, no no no) I can see how this can create a problem.

Last year when we traveled to Australia, Jackson would have missed close to 20 days of school (17 for travel, a few extra for jet-lag since we were up til 2 am the first few nights).  As a way to supplement, we did school for one week of Christmas break, and while we still finished up at Memorial Day, we started up again the 2nd week of July.  I don’t think our 4 weeks break suffered him anything but rich experience.

Also, when I was at my parents house not too long ago, I found my report card from my year on exchange.  I missed 23 days of class!  I’m sure I made it up in the social skills I learned while living with people I’d never met (yikes!) and giving impromptu speeches.  I also learned so much about the culture and political environment and industry.  23 days was nothing!

Now I realize that this experience is out of the norm, but I think we totally disregard skills learned during travel.  At the least of things- how about real world skills like boarding an airplane, figuring out distance and time to the destination, exchanging currency (if applicable).

If going to the ocean there are so many things to learn- tides, ecosystems, maybe even just more time spent as a family to hone cooking skills with mom or learn the physics of flying a kite with dad.

Yes, these things could be done at home or in school, but in a world of rushed families where many parents both work full-time, doesn’t family time win?  Don’t studies show that even if Junior has dinner with mom and dad 5 nights a week he will be more successful than someone who scores all A’s in school?

What do you think- should parents have full-range to pull kids out from school for family travel?  Should there be different restrictions- i.e. going to a National Park v. going to Disney World?  Or maybe you homeschool for this very reason- the flexibility of your time for travel and outings?dsc_0758

 Want more information?  Check out this article in the Boston Globe or this blog from a retired teacher.

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3 thoughts on “Take the kids out of school for vacation? Yay or Nay?

  • March 3, 2015 at 10:55 pm

    There is so much learning that takes place outside of the four walls of a “class room”. I say children should experience different sights as much as possible.

  • March 4, 2015 at 7:55 am

    This is one of the many reasons we homeschool. Back on May 1st 2008, Jeff’s dad fell in the early morning hours and was rushed to the hospital. They discovered he had inoperable brain cancer. That night we went home, packed up the camper we just purchased 8 months prior, and headed to FL. Jeff flew home after the first week, but the kids and I lived in the camper for a month. They learned more in that month than they may have their entire lives. Did we take their school books? Yes. Did they open them while we were there? No. They learned many, many things, like compassion, helpfulness, tenderness, you know the really important things in life. And my 8 year old (who was a brand new Christian) had the courage to ask his grandfather if he had Jesus in his heart. Something none of the adults had the courage to do, because we were pretty sure he did. So thankfully, now we know, Dad is in Heaven waiting for us. Isn’t that the most important lesson of all? To me it is.

    • March 4, 2015 at 8:44 am

      That’s such a good understanding of real world lessons that can be learned when we aren’t at a desk with four walls around us. What a sad story, but I’m sure the lessons your kids learned then will stick with them throughout life- maybe one of the greatest lessons is how to make family a priority when the storms of life rage!


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