Are you considering traveling during the school year? Heading off on getaways when school is in session often results in cheaper travel and more opportunities for your family to see different cities and locations.
However, you have some considerations to make this work for your family and kids.
You’ll find some people that say you should never take your kids out of school for traveling, even if it’s only for a few days. I’m not always in that camp; missing two or three days of school isn’t a huge deal in the scope of their entire educational career.
If you feel the same way and want to score some deals on the off-season prices at different resorts and locations, here are some tips for traveling during the school year.
Should Kids Travel During the School Year?
Let’s get some of the controversial stuff out of the way.
You have people in different camps. For example, some people firmly believe kids shouldn’t miss school for anything other than being sick, which is often unavoidable.
Other people have no problems with their kids missing a reasonable amount of school for things like travel, family commitments, or mental health days.
Neither camp is wrong; everyone does what is right for their family and child. We know that traveling offers many benefits for children, so we believe it’s worthwhile.
10 Tips for Traveling During the School Year
1. Make Sure You Know the School Policy
Before you start traveling during the school year, you must know the school’s absence policy. Some schools excuse so many travel days, while others count those as unexcused.
Many schools say that travel is unexcused, and after ten unexcused absences per semester, they call the authorities or truancy officers to figure out what is happening.
This often has to do with public schools’ money based on how many class hours their students attend. However, my friends say that private schools have a more lenient policy because they receive the same amount of money no matter if your child is there or not.
If you like to travel a lot, it might be worth calling local private schools to ask about their policy.
Know the policy as well as any consequence that comes from traveling. Some districts require kids to attend so many days of summer school if they miss too many days; you don’t want to do that to your child.
2. Plan Around School Holidays
One of the easiest ways to travel during the school year is to study the school calendar and note days when school is closed. Mark all of the single holidays and consider if you can use any long weekends to plan trips.
Remember, travel doesn’t need to be for an entire week. Long weekends are awesome! Trips to Great Wolf Lodge or mountain resorts are options when your kids have an extra day off!
Overlapping your vacations with school holidays reduce how many days your kids need to miss school. In addition, teachers tend to reduce the workload in the days leading up to a holiday break.
3. Consider Other Times to Miss School
Some times throughout the school year are better to miss than others.
It’s best not to take your child out of school at the beginning of the school year; kids need time to adjust and start working before taking a break.
Also, you don’t want to take them out at the end of a grading period or dates before and during big tests.
You might consider trips during the second, third, and fourth grading periods at the start of each one. This gives your child plenty of time to make up for any missed work while traveling.
4. Try to Plan Ahead in Advance
I love a spontaneous trip, but that doesn’t work well when your kids are in school. It’s easy to guess holiday trips because schools have the same breaks every year.
I suggest scheduling vacations that overlap with school holidays in advance because holidays often sell out because so many families plan to do the same thing.
5. Communicate with Teachers and School Staff
Some teachers are more open to families traveling than others, and communication is key if you decide to take your child out of school to travel. However, one of the biggest problems teachers have is parents not ensuring their kids complete assignments.
Don’t be that parent.
If you’re going to travel when school is in session, it’s your responsibility to ensure your child completes all of their assignments. The teacher shouldn’t have to catch your child up during the class time.
6. Plan to Ensure Work in Completed
Speaking of completing assignments, you have to be purposeful about this when you travel. Taking your kids out of school doesn’t mean they’re excused from all work and learning.
If your kids will miss a test, ask if they can take the test earlier rather than later as a sign that you take your child’s education seriously.
You need to have a plan to guarantee your child will finish their work. For example, when are they going to do homework? Are you planning to make time each day during the trip or when they return? Your child should bring all of their work back with them when they go back to school, ideally.
7. Let the School Know Well in Advance
As I mentioned before, a spontaneous trip isn’t always a good idea when your child is in school. It’s best to plan traveling so that you can let all parties involved know as soon as possible.
As your child gets older, they become more involved with activities.
Not only will your child have school, but chances are they’ll also be involved with clubs, sports, and lessons. Start an open dialogue with all of your children’s teachers, letting them know as far in advance as possible of your plans.
8. Always Include Education When Traveling
While traveling, make an effort to include anything educational into your trip. Most locations have age-appropriate attractions that will teach your child about something new or exciting.
9. Understand Older Kids Might Not Want to Travel
As your child gets older, understand that your child might not want to travel. Talk to your child; there will be events that your child loves and won’t want to miss.
We might love traveling, and our kids do as well, but they love other things. If your kids are involved in sports, make sure not to travel during games. They work too hard during practice to miss games when it’s easily avoidable.
Older kids tend to be involved and have more commitments that they don’t want to miss.
10. Consider Homeschooling
Some families have significant traveling goals, like spending a month or two in Europe. Those are amazing goals, but to avoid disrupting your child’s education, homeschooling might be a better fit for your family to give you the ultimate flexibility with attendance.
Traveling during the school year is a great opportunity for your family to spend more time together, but make sure you do so with plenty of consideration. Their education is just as important, so you need to be sure that the school and teachers know and that you’re prepared to help your kids catch up.