Is It Okay To Pull Your Kids Out Of School For Vacation?

When deciding on whether to take a family vacation during school time, parents should consider what academics their child will miss out on, while looking for ways to incorporate learning during the getaway.

By Kari Apted | Published

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Taking a family vacation during the school year has many advantages, including smaller crowds and lower travel fares, but is it worth the cost of missed classroom instruction time? With so many kids still struggling to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on their educational progress, answering this question is more complicated than ever. Here are some of the pros and cons to consider before pulling students out of class to travel.

According to a Travel+Leisure article, it’s important for children to travel as much as possible. Going places expands a child’s world—not just literally, but figuratively, by exposing them to cultural experiences that mold them into more empathetic and adaptable individuals. Dr. Robin Hancock, a global education specialist says, “Travel has the potential to create a new narrative that teaches children about the similarities with others [and] lays a strong foundation, especially in the early years…We have the potential to raise a generation that knows how to live and coexist with each other.”

Another benefit of frequent family vacations is that they give parents and kids time to connect and recharge outside of the daily grind. Of course, scheduled school breaks are designed to provide that, but many kids with Type-A personalities can benefit from additional days away from high-stress learning environments. Since emotional intelligence is a greater predictor of success in life than academics, nurturing its growth through travel is particularly important for kids who struggle in the classroom.

Still, principals and teachers may not be sold on the idea of a family vacation taking priority over school, particularly if it happens when important tests or assessments are taking place. Kids may miss valuable time contributing to and presenting a group project, which could lower their grades. Already-stressed teachers may not appreciate having to find time to assign and grade make-up work.

School attendance policies can also make it tough to schedule a family vacation outside of normal breaks in the school calendar. Although some schools are loosening attendance policies, others have strict limits on the number of unexcused absences they allow each semester. Families who pile up unapproved absence days can be subject to any number of penalties, from kids being suspended to parents being required to attend embarrassing meetings with truancy officials.

How can parents lessen any negative impact a family vacation might have on a child’s studies? Always inform teachers a week or more ahead of your travel dates, so they can prepare a homework packet for your child to do while you’re away. Since the pandemic broadened schools’ ability to educate kids online, it’s also worth asking if there are any virtual education options your child can utilize while you’re out of town.

While you’re enjoying your vacation destination, make it an educational experience by expanding your itinerary beyond the major tourist attractions. Walk around a local neighborhood and interact with small business merchants. Let your children play with local kids in a park and they will find creative ways to communicate beyond language.

family vacation

Ultimately, the decision of, “Should we stay or should we go?” is up to the parents. Each family must weigh the benefits of frequent travel against the rewards of perfect school attendance. However, the ability to plan a family vacation at-will and not adhere to a set school calendar is one reason more parents are opting to homeschool.