Is It OK for Kids to Miss School for a Family Vacation?
A friend whose children are in another school system told me that kids who miss school for family vacations receive detention. That seems outrageous to me.
As a former teacher, I know how frustrating it can be when students are not in class. Especially with the new accountability linking student performance on standardized tests with teachers job performance and school rankings, I imagine schools are under a lot of pressure. Even when I was in the classroom, families leaving early on vacation or extending their vacations often made the days book-ending the breaks throwaways and sometimes even threatened the school's ability to legally count those as days of school in session. So, everyone is paying the price for what may be one family's choice to save some money on off-season flights or hotel rates.
Still, when done properly, family vacations are an important opportunity for kids to grow and learn outside of the classroom. Opportunity does not always knock during school break and sometimes you have to seize that chance to bond as a family, learn about another culture, visit distant relatives, or explore sites of historical or natural interest. That's a lot more valuable than just another day completing worksheets, which can be done just as easily while traveling.
If your child (or you if your child is younger) is willing to commit to completing missed work, there is no reason why you should not miss a few days of classroom schooling for a special trip. Let the teacher know ahead of time so he or she may prepare work. It is your child's responsibility to make up the missed work, not the teacher's. If your child will be missing more than a couple of days and the work will be challenging for you or your child to complete, find out if the child can stay after school and possibly hire a tutor to help with that unit of study.
See if you can turn the trip into a learning experience that connects with what is happening in school. Offer to bring back something educational from the trip (like a journal, photographs, or educational memento) that your child can share with the class.
If you and your child can handle the responsibility, I say go for it--experience is the best teacher.