Would you pull your kids out of school for a family vacation?

Discussion in 'Childhood and Beyond (4+)' started by Becca34, Sep 19, 2009.

  1. Becca34

    Becca34 Well-Known Member

    A little background -- DH's dad's side of the family is all in California, and we rarely get to see them. In 2003, just a few months before I got pregnant with Nadia, his uncle paid for a huge diving trip to Belize for most of the family. We were only responsible for our plane tickets, and he paid for the resort, the diving, food, everything. We got SCUBA certified, and had an amazing time -- and, got to connect with family that I barely knew.

    Well, he's doing a follow-up next February, this time in Maui. Kids are invited, and he is hiring a few babysitters/nannies to help. He's booked some houses, and is hiring a personal chef for the week.

    It's during the week of Presidents' Day in February, which the cousins have off from school. Problem is, Nadia doesn't. She even has school on Presidents' Day.

    Her school really frowns on pulling kids out, and counts each day as an unexcused absence, which counts against grades.

    Then, there's the issue of flying some 11 hours with Kevan & Karina, which I can't imagine would be fun at this point. Not to mention it would be at least $1,000 per person to fly coach, so it would be expensive even if DH's uncle paid for the rest of the trip.

    But dude, it's Maui! We've never been, and I'm dying to go. Nadia also adores one of her cousins, and asks frequently to go visit her -- they haven't seen each other in a couple years. The trip is supposed to include diving (we'd have to take a brush-up course), hiking/biking up the volcano, and just vegging at the beach.

    We are thinking about having my parents come up and stay with K&K for the week, while we took just Nadia. She'd miss four days of school. I'm thinking about broaching it with her teacher at conferences next month. The kiddo is doing just fine in kindergarten, and breezing through her schoolwork. She's reading several grade levels ahead. I doubt four days would really put her behind.

    But, I've generally been opposed to this kind of thing. What would you guys do?
  2. niftywriter

    niftywriter Well-Known Member

    I think you have lots of time to inform the school of your plans and to find out from them what you need to do to help Nadia prepare so that her schoolwork is not affected by the four days' absence.

    There is no way I would allow my child to miss an opportunity like this for travel and time with her extended family. (Nor should you miss this opportunity, either). I consider travel to be a fantastic educational opportunity--and time with extended family (especially family you rarely get to see) is both priceless and important for your child.

    I cannot see a school having a problem with this as long as you inform them of your plans early and make sure you find out what they would like Nadia to make up any missed assignments or lessons.
  3. seamusnicholas

    seamusnicholas Well-Known Member

    I would do it and I was a teacher! Any teacher should understand your situation! You cant pass it up!
  4. Anne-J

    Anne-J Well-Known Member

    I would totally go! It's Maui!! :yahoo:

    Honestly, I don't see how missing four days of K could be considered a big deal, for a kid who is ahead anyway. It's K kwim?

    If the teacher showed concern, I would probably just ask for a couple of homework assignments for the week, or look into a way she could catch up on missed work the following weekend.

    Good luck with your decision Becca!
  5. seamusnicholas

    seamusnicholas Well-Known Member

    I just wanted to share that when my students (1st grade) went on vacation, I never gave them actual work to do (makeup while away) but I did give them a vacation journal. You can maybe have her journal and draw pictures of her trip.
  6. Becca34

    Becca34 Well-Known Member

    Thank you, guys. Clearly I was looking for validation, LOL. I hate when I'm opposed to something, and then change my mind when we stand to benefit from it. :laughing:

    Nicole, that's a great idea about journaling. I was thinking also about having her learn about Hawaiian customs and volcanoes and other relevant topics, and write something or report back to the class.
  7. Kathlene

    Kathlene Well-Known Member

    Generally I too would frown on and be opposed to something like this. In this case though I would say go for it! It is a chanse of a lifetime.
  8. rubyturquoise

    rubyturquoise Well-Known Member

    ITA with this. I am not one for pulling my kids out of school (and my high school kids hate to miss school), but you have to know when to be flexible, and this is definitely a 'when.'
  9. jamey

    jamey Well-Known Member

    I would do it! There are other places to learn, besides a classroom! Maybe let her teacher know some of the neat, educational things you'll be doing - and she can share her experiences with the class when she comes back.
  10. jjzollman

    jjzollman Well-Known Member

    Becca, GO!

    This isn't your run-of-the-mill family vacation to Disney World or The Smokey Mountains that can be scheduled any time - this is a family reunion of sorts, a once in a lifetime trip - and a million memories and educational opportunities. I would expect any school to understand the circumstances!

    I'm jealous!!
  11. Mama_Kim

    Mama_Kim Well-Known Member

    At your kids' ages? I would. I'm not usually an advocate of taking time off from school for family vacations unless it's something special. In this case, I'd say it's special!

    In our school district, the only excused absences are for illness with a doctor's note or a death in the family. All other absences, including vacations, are unexcused. After five unexcused absences, parents get a warning letter from the judge. After ten, the parents are required to appear in court. There is no leeway for bargaining on the issue. So I understand your quandary. But still at her age, I would say go!!

    Now with my boys in high school? No, I wouldn't. There are some very strong incentives for them to be present every day unless absolutely unavoidable. If they miss two or less days, they are allowed to drop the lowest test grade in each of their classes. If they miss more than five days, they have to make it up, time for time, after school. Plus, with their fast paced honors classes which are only a semester long since they are on blocked scheduling, they would just miss too much material to catch up on easily. But prior to high school, I would have taken my boys on a trip like this in a heartbeat! So do it now, while you still can!!
  12. JenJefLog

    JenJefLog Well-Known Member

    Without a doubt, I would go! Like MamaKim, I'm not usually one to pull my kids out of school for much, but this is such an opportunity and I don't think missing four days should affect her at all. Sometimes I think schools really need to lighten up. I know that there are too many families that keep their kids home from school at the drop of a hat, but when you are coming to them in advance and trying to work with them on the academics missed and all of that, they should not consider it an unexcused absence.
  13. Ellen Barr

    Ellen Barr Well-Known Member

    Go! Buy some books about Maui/Hawaii to read on the plane ride. About the culture, history and natural history of the islands and their people. Then take them to see and do all kinds of cultural things while you are there: eat poi, visit museums, go to a luau, surf, take in a hula show, drive around the sugar cane fields, compare lava and coral. Your kids will learn more and it'll stay with them longer than all the stuff they'll miss in class. Oh, and have fun!!
  14. jenn-

    jenn- Well-Known Member

    I would definitely look at the laws regarding this. I got a nasty gram from the truancy officer after DD missed 2 days unexcused to go to Disney. They had had warning all school year, and it was the 2 days before Thanksgiving, when all they do is party and watch videos at that age. They didn't care. Anyways, I wouldn't hesitate to take her out in K if you won't end up with a large legal issue when you get back.
  15. DinaJ

    DinaJ Well-Known Member

    Absolutely! She's in kindergarten, for goodness sakes! What exactly will she be missing? Sorry they are such scrooges about family vacations. Like a PP said, go now while you can, because you won't be able to once they are in high school. Have fun!
  16. jxnsmama

    jxnsmama Well-Known Member

    Definitely go on the trip!!

    Our district counts vacation days as unexcused as well. Two years ago, my parents took my siblings and our families to Disneyworld for my parents' 50th anniversary. They planned the trip for a year. We told teachers and school administration about the trip 6-8 weeks in advance (it involved taking five kids -- two kindergarteners, two fourth graders, and one seventh grader -- out of school for four days). The principals and teachers at my kids' schools were very understanding and said we should definitely take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime family trip. We got no trouble from them at all. My SIL (with kids in the same district as mine) had a very hard time getting her seventh-grader's teachers to cooperate. And she got a visit from a district truancy officer about her fourth grader!! But regardless of her troubles, none of the kids was affected adversely academically by the trip. And certainly, it was no big deal for my kindergarteners to miss.

    Take the trip and enjoy!
  17. Ellen Barr

    Ellen Barr Well-Known Member

    Just wanted to add: the reason schools don't like unexcused absences is that they don't get paid by the state/feds. They get a percentage for absences due to illness, but zero for unexcused (vacation) absences. You could always ask the principal if s/he'd rather you called the absences in as sick days. I know, some people might cry foul (it's lying, after all), but on the other hand, why should a school get $ for a sick kid vs. a kid on an "educational family field trip"? Neither one requires work from the school, but they get paid for one and not the other. No wonder they discourage unexcused absences.
  18. akameme

    akameme Well-Known Member TS Moderator

    Sorta OT, but are religious holidays considered an unexcused absence?

    And, you really need a dr.s note to keep a kid out of school? what if your kid has a fever, isn't that reason enough for them to stay home?
  19. Mama_Kim

    Mama_Kim Well-Known Member

    OK, not wanting to derail Becca's topic here, but want to answer these q's. My friend is Jewish and for example, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, she is allowed to take her daughters out of school and it is an excused absence. I forgot to mention the religious holidays. As far as when your child is sick, you are allowed five "mommy" notes a semester but they are still considered unexcused absences if there is no dr's note to accompany it. So, for example, Craig was out one day last week because he was running a low temp and was sick to his stomach. I kept him home (actually I signed him out after an hour at school). We did not go to the doctor, so the absence was unexcused but within our five allowed unexcused absences for the semester. If he had remained sick and I had to take him to the doctor, then all the days would be excused with a dr's note. If he had still been running a fever the next day, but did not warrant a dr's visit, then he would have had two unexcused absences. Basically, you are allowed to keep your child out for any reason for five days or less a semester without a dr's note, but they will all be considered unexcused absences. After five, you are contacted by the truancy judge. After ten, you have to appear in court. NO exceptions. None.

    At the elementary school level and the middle school level, teachers would be 100% willing to work with this (although they cannot excuse the absences) for a trip such as Becca's. At the high school level, it is strongly discouraged to take your kids out for any type of vacation (see my comments above for why) and teachers would not be happy. It was tough enough when DH's father passed away and it was finals week at the high school. Teachers obviously were willing to work with us (and since we traveled to NY for the funeral, we were gone an entire week) but it was hard to get Sean excused from his finals. We were lucky that two of his classes were AP classes so he had already taken the AP tests, and one class was band (so no final). His German teacher excused him from the final since he had an A anyway, but administration had to approve and it was tough. We had to bring a letter from the funeral director (common so easily done) and a copy of the death certificate!

    OK, back to Becca's MAUI TRIP!!!!! Woo Hoo!!! (But be careful. I went to Hawaii and came back PG with twins after one too many mai tais!!)
  20. Becca34

    Becca34 Well-Known Member

    Ellen, she's in a private school, so this wouldn't really apply. I'm just hoping that if I broach it with the teacher, she'll tell me that the school's official position is X, but she'll quietly encourage us to go. She seems like a reasonable woman, and I know she's going to take some time off in the spring when her daughter delivers a baby, as her son-in-law is deployed and can't come back for the birth. So, clearly she understands that life doesn't always coincide with the school schedule...

    I was wondering about the official doctor's note, too. That seems unfair, because it's hardly necessary to rush a kid to the doctor for every fever, even if you kept them home from school. We have an HSA, so we pay for everything up to a high deductible -- so that's a whopping waste of $150 or whatever it is, just to avoid an unexcused absence.

    Dear God. Bite your tongue! I'll have to remember condoms. :laughing:
  21. AmynTony

    AmynTony Well-Known Member

    kinda OT because I don't have kids old enough to worry about pulling them from school but Tony and I went to Oahu 2 years ago and it was truly a once in a lifetime experience and one that I wouldn't ever miss....
  22. Oneplus2more

    Oneplus2more Well-Known Member

    OH, I would do it in a heartbeat!* I wonder if the school will be easier to work with since it is a small, private school? I hope you get it all worked out smoothly. But, I do think it makes a big difference that Nadia is just in K this year. If this is going to be something the family does every 5-7 years I would mention far in advance that it really needs to be during Christmas or summer break next time. I know you of course wouldn't want to sound ungrateful to such an extremely generous uncle, but if you plant the seed early hopefully it will be taken in to account when ideas for the next time are first being considered.

    Enjoy!! I'm sooooo jealous!!

    ETA: only because this is a special event you really don't have control of the timing for. For a run of the mill vacay you plan yourself then no, I wouldn't pull them out.
  23. JenJefLog

    JenJefLog Well-Known Member

    At our school, as long as you're there for homeroom and counted for attendance purposes, you're considered "there." The school gets their money. I can let my kid go to homeroom and then take them out for the rest of the day. They're still marked absent in each class, but it doesn't affect the attendance reported to the district. We also only need a doctor's note if our child is out for more than 3 days. Or is it 5? :huh:
  24. sharongl

    sharongl Well-Known Member

    Really? If our kids are not there for a full 4 1/2 hours, they are counted as absent, and their day doesn't count. I found that out when I took them out 10 min. early on an early dismissal day.
  25. Chrissy Nelson

    Chrissy Nelson Well-Known Member

    We took the girls out of school last year a couple days during fall break to go on a cruise. They are going to miss 3 1/2 days this year to go to Disney and do a 4 day Cruise during Fall Break. I know it is frowned upon by the school but the price difference from going during Spring, summer and Christmas break is in the thousands. Next year we will more than likely pull them out to go see their Grandparents in California as well. I have let the school know of our plans already. So far their teachers have been willing to give us their work which we do on the plane on the way down and back.

    Plus it may just be "Disney" but they learn alot :D and being with family and making the memories are amazing.

    I believe that is how ours works too.
  26. Callen

    Callen Well-Known Member

    I would go & take all of the kids.
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