For The Sake Of Our Family Vacation, Should I Allow My Child To Miss School?

When should you let your kid miss school?

I hope the academics aren’t so demanding in the early years of elementary school that a few days off can make or break the learning process. My recommendation is to make the most of these formative years, when you have the freedom to plan your activities on your own timetable rather than theirs.

When it’s best not to go.

To put a damper on my own “seize the day” celebration, I’m going to rain on my own parade. A lack of research supports my belief that children should be left to their own devices until they are in the 5th grade. However, when their workload increases and they are learning things in school that they cannot learn at home (or, more crucially, you cannot teach them at home), I would be more picky about when they miss school. You may choose your own personal cut-off point.

I’m aware that different people have different perspectives on this, and rarely is there one, definitive “solution” when it comes to parenting decisions. My own personal exceptions include tying a family vacation to a once-in-a-lifetime professional trip to Fiji (please, sign me up for that job!).

At least one family in my immediate circle values international travel above even the most basic obligations, including making it to school on time every day. I say I wouldn’t because it’s out of my realm of reality, but I do think that children learn more about the world when they’re exposed to a variety of other cultures.

But let’s be honest: after the early elementary years, Disney World and the like are definitely a cultural experience that can wait till Winter breaks for most of us who live in between vacations once or twice a year.

Consider these factors before removing your child from school.

Despite the lack of study on the effect of family vacations on grades, we know that greater absences from school in general lead to more difficulty in school. So, when your child gets older, and grades become more important, you may want to think about what he or she needs to succeed in school. Taking family vacations during school breaks is more crucial to their overall well-being if they miss more school for other reasons. Another factor to consider is whether or not the classroom learning they would miss would cause them additional stress, which would negate the aim of an enjoyable and relaxing vacation.

It will get increasingly difficult to take family vacations as your child gets older and the scholastic pressures grow. As far as taking an 8-year-old to a Disney theme park is concerned, my quick response is yes. It’s up to you. It’s part of savoring a time in childhood when having fun still trumps everything else.

Happy travels!

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