Just because the deals are great, this is not the time to take a three-week family vacation to your cousin's vineyard in Italy during the school year. Such an extended absence often outweighs the educational value. If possible, plan around a long weekend so you're only missing a couple of days. Avoid long-haul flights -- re-entry will be difficult enough for your child without throwing jet lag into the mix.
Time the Trip Wisely
If possible, schedule your trip later -- as opposed to earlier -- in the school year, so your child has a chance to become familiar with the routine. The first month or two of school is an adjustment, no matter what your child's age. Always avoid testing periods. Also, take into account the pace of the curriculum during the period you will be traveling. October is generally a jam-packed month; the week before Christmas break is pretty slow. If your child is involved in a team sport or any extra-curricular activities, take these commitments seriously, and keep coaches and advisors in the loop.
Make It an Educational Vacation
What does your child stand to gain, educationally speaking, from this trip? If this a spot you have visited before, or one which offers little in the way of culture or enrichment, consider planning it during a school vacation and use take advantage of the deals in ways a vacation will enrich your child's education. For example, if your child is studying the Revolutionary War, taking him or her to Boston, Concord, Lexington and Bunker Hill is a way to make history books come to life and give him or her a better understanding of what they are learning in school. If your child is reading "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer," a trip along the Mississippi River and rides on a steamboat can add to the experience.
Don't Make It a Habit
Treat school-time trips as the exception and not the rule. Pulling your children out of school for family vacations is not something you want to do on a regular basis -- certainly not more than once a year.
However, if you don't want your child to miss school, or his/her school advises you against it, don't let it stop you from taking advantage of the great deals available, simply keep to weekend trips -- you'll be surprised at how much you can pack in.
And lastly, if you can swing it, always bring your child's teacher back a small souvenir. As every good student knows, even when you follow the rules, a little kissing-up never hurts.
Thinking of taking your kids out of school for a vacation? Or want to share your views on why it should be avoided? Visit our Taking Your Kids out of School Forum.
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