Last week, we discussed some of the pros and cons of different times to visit Walt Disney World. Maybe you’ve discovered that you’d rather head to the parks in the cooler, less crowded, value seasons. Unfortunately, these often fall during the school year, so parents are faced with the dilemma of whether or not to pull their little ones out of school. For some it’s a major DO, and others see it as a big DON’T. As both an educator and a parent, I see both sides of this particular coin. If you’re on the fence about what to do, read on and decide what works for you, and please share your thoughts on the matter with us in the comments below.
Full Speed Ahead If…
1. The three reasons I mentioned earlier are big factors for you when planning your vacations. Avoiding the brutal summer heat, crowds and costs at a Disney Park make fall, winter and spring trips more alluring to parents picturing the perfect Disney vacation.
2. Your vacation time doesn’t fall during school vacations. Sometimes you just have to go when the grown-ups can get the time off work.
3. Special events are a must-do. They often fall during the “off seasons,” and if your family wants to experience Halloween Time at Disneyland or the Holidays at Walt Disney World, skipping school may be your only option.
If You Decide to Skip School…
1. My first tip would be to take advantage of those younger days, or as I like to call them “the magic years.” This is when the kids are wide-eyed and truly believe they’re hugging Mickey Mouse or that the actual Cinderella really did just blow a kiss from her carriage. These are also the times when school may be a little easier to miss. You can definitely help junior with his letter sounds, shapes and sight words, but will you be able to work on geometry (which, by the way, I haven’t often used since high school) when he’s missing a week of ninth grade?
2. Work around smaller school holidays. Most student get a week for spring break, so this can be a busy time at the parks, but not all districts offer, say, a fall break. We’ll be taking advantage of this mini school break in October to hit Walt Disney World. We have three days off, so we’ll just be missing a couple days of school as opposed to an entire week.
3. Let your school know in advance and be ready to make-up any work missed if allowed. Different schools have different policies. In our experience, it has not been an issue. At most, my mouseketeer was asked to keep a daily journal of his experiences and turn it in upon his return to school.
Rethink Playing Hooky if…
1. Your school has a very strict attendance policy. Look over this when planning your vacation time and see if you’d still be OK if little Sally needed to miss school for another reason during the quarter or semester (or however your district measures absences). So many factors can play into this: excused vs. unexcused, military leave, length of absence, etc. Make yourself familiar with this and ask questions of your district if anything is unclear.
2 . Missing school could pose academic risks. Are mid-terms approaching? Are grades on the fence? Will any missed work count against your child? Like I mentioned earlier, this often affects the older kiddos, especially once they reach high school. Some children at this age also decide for themselves that they’d prefer not to miss classes (or other extracurriculars), so consider taking their thoughts into account, too.
3. You feel uneasy about it. It will be hard to have a good time on vacation if you’re constantly wondering if you made the right choice.
Have you taken the kiddies out of school for a Disney family vacation? Why or why not? If you have, did your decision have any consequences, good or bad? We look forward to hearing your opinion and experiences on skipping school for Disney.