Recently there was a viral letter floating around the internet regarding a family who took their kids out of school for three days to go to the Boston Marathon. First of all, what is the big deal? It was THREE days. A minimal amount of time for a once in a life time experience, don’t you think? Many runners train for years to qualify for this event and the support of their family is a huge part of this training. How exhilarating it would be to watch your father cross that finish line. I’m not even a runner and I would jump at the chance to just go watch the Boston Marathon (and I would take my family too).
We take our kids out of school a couple of times a year for a few days to go on vacation. Why? We can’t always work around school holidays. So… should we never go on vacation? We usually can’t afford to go anywhere during most of the “standard” holiday breaks. We afford our vacations because we purposely travel during off season or book flights during non-peak times.
We value education. It is very important in our family. We are tough about grades, homework, and balancing educational learning with play time. We also value family time, life experiences, and making memories. I’m proud that our youngest son could snorkel and point out various fish species at four years old. YES – we do crazy things like waking them up in the middle of the night (on a school night) to see a Blood Moon. They take these experiences back to school with them, and get super excited when the topic is something they have actually experienced. On a recent trip to the USVI, we visited historic sites and learned about the history of the Virgin Islands. Our oldest son donated a Virgin Islands flag to his class and told his classmates about the Islands and their history. His teacher brought out the world map and they looked up each place we had visited. Sharing something he could “teach” his peers was very exciting for him.
We plan ahead with the school and make sure we take any schoolwork with us. Our kids know that just because they are missing school, they are not excused from their schoolwork. Before we enjoy any of the day’s activities – the school work must be completed.
Our kids are young and we understand it will become harder to miss school as the work becomes more intense. We will have to be more “choosy” regarding the times and reasons we leave for a vacation. However, being well traveled is education in itself. Knowing how to maneuver in an airport, not being afraid of exploring a new area, knowing how to act around different cultures and being truly excited about a region’s local history and historic sites are all things they will take into adulthood. This will help shape their adult lives and possibly add to future job opportunities. Would our kids even remember anything from specific days missed from school? Probably not. But they will forever remember seeing a family of squid swimming by, the barracuda they caught, and seeing one of the only known full skeleton fossils of a T-Rex.
Will we continue to take our kids out of school for important life experiences? Yes. A loved ones milestone birthday; gone – grandpa is only 90 once. A humanitarian or ecological mission trip; sign us up! Sea Turtle nesting season on a remote island; would go in a heartbeat. It is unfortunate that sea turtles don’t nest during the designated Christmas holiday. But life doesn’t just happen during the Christmas holiday. Your family may not get a second chance for certain life experiences – so you must take them the first time. And don’t you dare feel a bit guilty about it!
What do you think? Is missing school for a family vacation O.K.? Am I right? Am I wrong? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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