by Military Diva
Ideally, we could all take our vacations during summer or holiday breaks. But many are unable to coordinate their work schedules with the school schedules. My husband spends the months of June and July preparing for and attending Annual Training. The dates and locations change yearly, but the schedule always consumes our summer. By the time his work schedule slows down our kids are starting their school year. There is no possibility of a summer vacation with our entire family. We have to choose between vacationing as a family or pulling the kids out of school for an off-season trip.
Thankfully, we have a very generous school system and well-disciplined children that are capable of handling the make-up school work. We have never had any problems getting our vacations approved. Here are a few tips to help your family have a successful vacation during the school year.
Examine your family situation and decide if removing your kids from school is a necessity or a request.
As I mentioned above, our family is typically unable to vacation during summer and holiday breaks. Additionally, all of our family lives out-of-state. For us, a school year vacation is more of a necessity. Now, I am not saying a trip to Disney is a necessity. But a trip to visit Grandma may be. We communicate this information with our administrators and try to vacation during weeks when the kids may already have a day or two off (Martin Luther King Day, President’s Day, etc.)
Consider your children’s academic abilities and typical absence schedule.
This is a priority! If your child struggles in school, is unable to make up work independently, or typically has above average absences you should not consider a school year vacation (except for emergency family situations). Their education should always come before vacation.
Get to know your school district’s absence and vacation policy.
Fortunately, we have been blessed with a school district that encourages family time as part of the educational process. As long as the student is prospering academically and has consistent attendance, we are welcome to remove our children from school for vacation. However, there are many districts that do not allow excused absences for vacation. Check with your school and be sure to know their official policy. Also be aware of district testing dates that may interfere with your plans.
Remember, most schools have your child’s best interest in mind. You don’t have to agree, but you should be respectful of the policy.
Speak with your child’s teachers and administrators now!
As soon as you have nailed down potential dates for vacation, request a meeting with your school administrator. We try to do this the first month of the school year. Be prepared to defend the reason for your vacation and be knowledgeable of your child’s academic status and absences. Above all, be kind, yet firm in your request.
Consider travel insurance or refundable packages.
You never know what may happen during the school year! An unexpected bout with the flu or an especially hard time with a geometry class may be cause for delaying a trip. Consider travel insurance or refundable packages to protect any prepaid funds. You do not want to pull a struggling child out of school to prevent the loss of a few deposits.
Remind teachers of upcoming vacation and request school work two weeks in advance of your trip.
It is especially helpful to remind teachers of your trip two weeks in advance. This gives them the opportunity to prepare make-up work for your child. Our teachers typically send work home a few days before we leave, giving us a head start on their work. Many teachers are also willing to work with your travel plans. Our most recent trip sent our high school students on a verbal treasure hunt for their language classes-they were required to order a Spanish/French meal, request directions and have a short conversation in these languages (on video for proof!). Real world application of a learned skill, brilliant!
Be sure to complete any missing schoolwork within the timeframe requested by their schools.
This should be obvious. Your child’s teachers have taken the time to prepare assignments to accommodate your family’s request. Please be respectful of their time and turn work in on time.
Remember, your vacation and child’s absence places an additional work load on the teachers. Consider a thank you gift for their effort!
Again, your vacation probably creates more work for the teachers. Remember them with a special gift from your travels, send a note of thanks for their cooperation, or offer to volunteer your services to their classroom. I know many teachers would be thrilled to have the help!
Our family has been fortunate to take several vacations during the school year. We believe that family time is just as critical as traditional education, and are grateful to live in a district that agrees with us. So whether your next vacation involves a trip to family or a trip to Disney, follow the above steps for a successful approach.
**Check out this article from Soarin Diva for more tips on how to get your school absences approved as excused educational absences.
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All for Dreams Travel is an independent agency of Gateway to Magic Travel, an Authorized Disney Travel Planner.