Family travel shouldn’t just happen during the summer and holiday breaks. Resorts are crowded and airline tickets are at a premium high during peak season. There are lots of discounts during off peak season and your family can get more bang for the buck by traveling during the school year.
Unless you’re a homeschooling family, traveling with kids during the school year can seem impossible.
The idea of missing classwork and not getting the Perfect Attendance award can leave most parents feeling anxious about travel. We worry that kids will miss something important and struggle for the rest of the year.
As a mom of 3, I know what it feels like to be limited to summers and holidays. But it doesn’t have to be that way. After years of traveling with my kids, mostly during the school year because we are flying standby, I’ve created this practical list just for parents.
How to Travel with Kids During the School Year:
- Choose the right time to take the kids out of school. It’s best to travel during the first part of the school year when they are reviewing last year’s lessons or at the very end of the school year. Talk with the teachers to get an understanding of the lesson schedule.
- Travel during non-major holidays like Columbus Day and Presidents Day. I consider these bonus days that the kids can travel and not be penalized. Fall Break is also a great time to get on the road.
- Give teachers enough notice to prepare assignments for your child to take while on vacation. A week in advance with a few days before as a reminder is good timing.
- Be aware of your school’s policy for absences and the number of days they can take before being considered truant. For many schools that number is between 8 and 12 excused or unexcused absences per school year. Also some schools do allow for absences for travel if you can make it education related. See #5.
- Look for opportunities for your children to learn during their travels. Have them come up with a list of things they want to know about the destination before they go. Get books on the destination they are visiting. Visit a museum, archeological site, or nature preserve during the trip. Have them journal. Their teacher would love for them to share the experience with the classroom.
- Designate a daily time for your child to work on assignments during the trip. Mornings before breakfast works great for my kids. We usually keep light snacks in our hotel room for them to eat if they get hungry before breakfast.
- Be consistent. If mornings or after lunch is the time you set for completing work, make sure it stays the same. It will be a challenge to get your children to focus during vacation but consistency makes it easier. Reward your little ones for completing their work.
- Don’t over do it. You’re on vacation. Have fun. It’s great that your children are keeping up with school work but it’s more important that they are spending quality time with you. I always ask for a deadline for completion a few days after we return. That way they have more time to work on it at home.
- For longer trips, allow your middle or high schooler to check in with their teacher or classmates via email. That way its not a grueling process to reconnect when they return to school.
- Make sure your child is in good academic standing. Keep track of your child’s school progress prior to departing and make adjustments as necessary. Have them make up missed assignments and complete any extra credit work before they go.
We all have an important role to play. It is the administrators’s job to have students in school every day. The teacher’s job to make sure students are prepared. And it’s the parents job to make sure children have a well rounded experience that includes education and travel.
I’d love to hear your experience while traveling during the school year. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below.
Update: Thanks to my readers for reminding me of another great tip!!
11. Start travel during the middle of the day and send your child to school in the morning. That way your child can be marked present for the day. You also can return early in the morning and have your child go back to school, though they may seriously hate you for this.IJS