The debate over whether or not to take your kids out of school to travel is certainly controversial. As a parent, an advocate of family travel, the editor of a family vacation site, Family Vacation Critic, and an early childhood educator earlier in my career, I am often asked for my opinion on the subject. To me, taking the kids out of school isn't so cut and dry.
For some parents, especially those with young kids, the back-to-school steals offered for vacation spots are too good to pass up.
Carrie Calzaretta, a mother and frequent contributor to Family Vacation Critic, said, "The first time I took my son out of school to travel, he was fewer than two months into his formal education. He was 5 years old, in kindergarten, and it was mid-October. For us, it was an ideal time for a quick jaunt south: Rates were reasonable, beaches would no longer be teeming with kids, and the weather was starting to turn at home."
However, educators aren't so supportive. Even in the early years, they worry that children will grow to feel school attendance is not important.
For families, off-peak pricing, especially in the fall and after the holidays, makes it very tempting to take a break during the school year, but is it okay to take your kids out of school? Or should it be avoided at all costs? For families on a tight budget, a vacation to Disney or a flight to see Grandma may only be affordable during off-peak times, which coincide with school schedules.
Why You Might Be Tempted to Take Your Kids Out of School
It's understandable that taking your kids out of school can be tempting when there are so many great deals being offered to lure you away from home. Hotels, airlines, theme parks, attractions and even restaurants are slashing prices by as much as 50 percent. These quieter travel periods mean smaller crowds at your destination as well. And for some families, travel during these periods could be an educational trip for your child that coincides with school lessons.
When Taking Your Kids Out of School May Be Okay
For families with infants and preschoolers, these travel bargains are a godsend. Now is the time to travel. Preschoolers and even part-time kindergarteners taken out of school won't be missing lesson plans that will have a negative impact on their education. However, if your child is in grade school, middle school or high school, there are some things to consider.
Does Your School Allow It?
Be informed. Does your school have a policy? Most often, schools make these decisions on a case-by-case basis, depending upon the circumstances, but rarely do they encourage travel-related absences. Some schools have non-negotiable attendance rules that forbid it. Others may allow up to five days of missed school for travel purposes. Make yourself aware of your school's policy before making any plans.
How Is Your Child Doing in School?
If your child is already struggling with certain classes and grades are low, taking your child out of school can further disrupt his or her education and make matters worse. However, if your child is excelling in his or her classes and quick to catch up, then it may be okay to consider taking time off to travel.