Being a family that likes to travel means that we take most family vacations during the school year. I absolutely hate crowds, so we avoid traveling pretty much when anyone else does. This means the kids miss a few weeks of school some years.
I realize this can be quite a controversy for some people, but we are of the mindset that the kids can learn far more by experiencing the world than they can in reading about it. Luckily, the kids go to a school that feels the same way.
When we’re on the road or taking a family vacation, you can bet we’ve built something educational into the trip. Even our very first road trip when we departed for Arizona six hours after deciding to go, we found educational stops along the way. Keeping track of your progress on Google Maps and travel blogs via a mobile hotspot is great for that! (If you’re ever traveling through Arizona, you’ll want to make sure you see the Petrified National Forest and Painted Desert. Oh and the pueblos in Northern Arizona are pretty cool too.)
Once, we routed our entire trip from Minnesota to Hilton Head Island so we could stop in Hannibal, Missouri and see where Mark Twain was from. We toured the Tom Sawyer caves and listened to the audio book versions of both Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn while in the truck. That trip also took us to Selma, Alabama where we toured the Voter’s Rights Museum, a little hole in the wall place that none of us will ever forget. We drove the same route that Martin Luther King Jr. walked to the Montgomery Court House and we heard the story of Bloody Sunday from a woman who was there in the fray when she was just 14.
These are all things that the kids may or may not have ever studied in school, but we know now that they will remember these events and these places in a way that no textbook could have ever taught them.
How do you feel about taking kids out of school for family vacations?
I’m right there with you. I much prefer to travel during off-peak periods.
Right now, it’s not exactly optimal. While the school wouldn’t give my grief about taking the kids out (they are currently 10th and 11th grade), they also don’t have the greatest policy about vacations. They won’t send work with you. But they’ll give you 2 days for every day you missed to make up the work.
But it creates a lot of stress on the kids, trying to make up homework while learning the stuff that’s happening when you get back. It stresses the kids out too much which doesn’t make for an enjoyable vacation.
So I’m stuck with some more middling busy times of year for vacations for a bit longer. But I can’t wait to get back to my early December timeframe.
Oh, I know. As much as the kids hate working on things before they leave, they do have fun knowing they are on vacation while their friends are at school. And there’s always different work upon their return that came up with while they were away…