Taking Kids Out of School for Family Vacations

Labor Day Weekend is coming up and after that, the last of the public school kids in the U.S. will start to go back to school. Historically, whenever kids went back to school in an area, that’s when the local tourist attractions would either start to close down for the season, or at least have much more limited hours than they did in the summer, when kids were out of school and more people would go on family vacations. You’ll still see kids on vacation during the school year, but not nearly as much as during the summer.

When I was a kid (oh wow, do I feel old to say that), it seemed like getting pulled out of school to go out of town with your family was not as much of a big deal as it is now. As I recall,

I only got pulled out of school twice – when I was 12 and when I was 16 – both times to go to Disney World with my parents. Both trips were during the winter months. Hotel and airline rates were much cheaper than they were in the summer, crowds were much lower, and let’s face it – the weather in Florida was perfect for these native New Yorkers who were dealing with daily below-freezing temperatures at home. So I see why my parents made that decision. I was also a smart kid so they figured losing a week of lessons wouldn’t hurt me too badly. The schools (Intermediate School for one trip, High School for the other) didn’t seem to have any issues with it and I had an “Excused Absence” for each vacation. I remember my teachers gave me work ahead of time to do while I was away, so I wouldn’t be a week behind (I distinctly remember promising Mr. Johnson, my high school English teacher, than I would read Hamlet while I was out of town, since that’s what the class would be doing that week. Of course, I never did – I just read the Cliff Notes. I told him that years later, when I bumped into him at our local mall. He said, with a smile, he was well aware I hadn’t read it LOLOL).

Screen Shot 2017-08-30 at 8.45.20 PMBut that was then and that was me. Nowadays…

  • Teachers in the United States are taught to give major side eye for family vacations during the school year, and in some states it’s considered an “unexcused” or even “illegal” absence.
  • In the U.K., you have to get permission from the head teacher if you want to take your child out of school for a holiday (what we call “vacation”) while it’s in session, and (s)he will determine how much time the child can be out of school. What’s more, you can be fined or even be taken to court if you take your kids on holiday during the school year if you don’t have the school’s permission.
  • Rules for children’s holiday time in Australia varies from state to state, just as it does in the USA. In Queensland, any absences of more than 10 consecutive school days require an exemption. In Victoria, the policy states that absences should be excused for family holidays “where the parent notifies the school in advance” and the student completes a “Student Absence Learning Plan.” In Tasmania, Western Australia and the Northern Territory, the policy is vague. In Western Australia, truant officers police student absences.
  • Although parents are encouraged to not take their children out of school during term, there are no set rules for same in Ireland, unless the child misses 20 days or more of school.

Screen Shot 2017-08-30 at 8.47.31 PMI realize times have changed from when I was a kid in the 70s and 80s. Kids are taught more in a shorter period of time and so much revolves around preparing for statewide or even nationwide testing. There are also many more studies that correlate how much a child learns in relation to how much time (s)he is given to be taught (really, they had to do STUDIES on this?!?!?!). Yet I know “taking your child out of school for a family vacation/holiday” is still a very hot topic – and I don’t think there is an easy answer for it.

I’d really like to hear from you:

  • Where are you from?
  • What is the policy where you live for taking kids out of school family vacation/holiday time during the school term?
  • What do you think about it?

Thanks so much!!!

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