Our education writer weighs in on the question, “Is it ok if I take my child out of school for a family vacation?” and offers some helpful advice if you do.
With school back in full swing, teachers field many questions from parents. While many are easy to answer like, “What is your homework policy?” Or, “When can we sign up for parent-teacher conferences?” There is one question that as a teacher, I never quite know how to answer. “Is it ok with you if I take my child out of school for a family vacation?”
It is important to understand that most schools have policies in place regarding illegal absences. Schools refer to any absence that is unrelated to illness or death in the family as an illegal absence. Family vacations fall into this category which is why parents are advised to plan vacations during the scheduled school breaks.
As I teacher I wonder, “Why would a parent have their children miss valuable instruction time when kids already have so many vacation days?” But as a parent, I understand that there are many factors that go into making this decision.
We all know that family vacations can be expensive and that airlines increase prices during school breaks, so pricing plays a part in scheduling vacations while school is in session. Popular destinations are also the most crowded during common school break, which makes it difficult to enjoy your precious family time. In working households, parents may have to schedule vacations around their allotted vacation time, especially if they work in a seasonal industry.
However, I think parents should take into account all of the possible consequences of taking children out of school before making a decision. Due to the recent implementation of the Common Core Standards in schools around the country, there is an increased amount of pressure on schools to perform. The curriculum is more rigorous in every grade including our youngest learners.
Missing one or two days of school may not make too much of an impact on your child, but having a child miss a week or more of class time can make catching up extremely difficult for him. Many teachers will also expect that the missed school work will be made up, so that means double the amount of homework upon returning home from your family vacation.
If you need to schedule a vacation while school is in session, you may be allowed to ask your child’s teacher to create a packet of work for her to complete while she is away. But be aware that some schools have a policy against allowing teachers to send work ahead of time, so it’s a good idea to check with the school first.
As a teacher, I am appreciative when a parent understands that pulling a child out of school is difficult for all involved and I am happy to make up a packet of work. However, I’ll also admit that if the packet comes back untouched, it really upsets me. So, if you ask a teacher to do you a favor, then please be courteous and have your child complete the work assigned.
To make family vacations easiest for your child and his teacher, here are some tips you can follow:
1. Try not to pull a child out of school for longer than one week per year.
I once had a student that missed five separate weeks of school for family vacations and it was very difficult for her to keep up with the work that she was missing. Vacations can be great, but not when they cause your child to fall too far behind.
2. Ask your child’s teacher for work ahead of time and get it done!
By having your child complete his assignments while on vacation, you’ll be setting a positive example: family vacations are important, but school work is too. As long as you squeeze in a little time each morning (or on the plane ride), you will help your child be prepared once he is back at school.
3. Communicate with your child’s teacher.
Let your child’s teacher know about your vacation as soon as your plans are made so she can prepare. It’s also important to check in with the teacher after you return from your trip to see if your child is caught up. If he is not caught up, be prepared to help out at home with the missing work.
Most importantly, enjoy the time with your family while you are vacationing, just be prepared to play catch up once you are back!
Thanks for reading,