September, in my mind, is synonymous with the end of summer and the beginning of school. Consequently, I grew up almost hating September. It was the month-that-must-not-be-named.  My attitude changed somewhat after I got into college, as I started looking forward to September as the time by which I’d be back at school. My love affair with September came along soon after college when I was married. I discovered that September is a great time to go to Disney World! Low crowd levels and still summer (to my NJ mind) weather, lower resort rates, and decent park hours translates to a great value for my money.

My love affair with September continued through kids one, two, and three.  In fact, my love for September grew even stronger as Disney offered better deals to get people to the parks during that slow time.  Free Dining Plan?  Heck yeah!

Eventually, in May of 2008, my wife put an end to my love affair with September.  Disney had just offered the Free Dining Plan for the second year in a row.  I called my Disney travel agent and booked a trip for the second week of September, with my wife’s birthday right in the middle of the trip.  I was really excited; this would be her second year in a row celebrating her birthday in Disney World!  When I got home from work, I immediately called for a family meeting.  With my family gathered around, I let them know the good news.  My two oldest kids jumped in the air and shouted for joy, then practically bowled me over with excited hugs.  We danced around the room with smiles on our faces.  I looked over lovingly to my wife, who sat on the couch holding our year-old baby.  Her eyes were filled with… venom?

“We can’t go,” she said.  Never did elation turn to bitter disappointment so quickly.  “What?!?”“Mommy! No!” “Why not! Mommy?” After multiple (unsuccessful) attempts to  calm the girls down, I finally procured their cooperation with a promise that I’d take care of everything and that they could go play on the Wii while I talked with Mommy.

“How could you book a vacation in September?  Amy will have just started school, maybe even that same week!” The frustration!  The circle was now complete, and I was speechless.  I finally gathered my wits enough to respond to this.  “So? What’s the big deal?”

What began as a night of joy became a night of debate as my wife and I went back and forth over why it wasn’t (or was) a good idea to take the kids to Disney World at that time.  We finally decided to settle the matter with an appeal to some of our friends who are teachers.

Here’s what we learned:

1.  If you have to take the kids out of school for vacation, September is one of the worst times, as they are adjusting to a new school year with a new teacher and new classes.  Even at other times during the year, it isn’t a good idea.  While some kids can miss school and not miss a beat, many feel very anxious because they’re behind the eight ball as they make up missed work.  However, long term progress is not usually affected, it is more short -run issues that develop.

2.  Different schools have different policies regarding schoolwork for kids on vacation.  Some schools do not even allow teachers to give assignments to students going on vacation.  Other schools may allow the teachers to give out assignments in advance. Regardless, it is up to the kids to manage when they return to school and suffer the consequences accordingly.  Things get even more complicated when you take sports and extracurricular activities into the picture.

3.  Many teachers recommend that if you have to take the kids out of school, you should do it during a week that already has been shortened because of holidays or teacher conventions.
In learning these things, I found my saving grace.  “Long term progress is not usually affected.” Hey! I’m a Neurotic Disney Dad!  Did you really think that I was going to let a little thing like school stop me from taking my family to enjoy a vacation at Walt Disney World?  Why should I postpone my vacation to a time when the parks are going to be more crowded, the rooms more expensive, and where I’m going to have to pay for my meals?
So we went to Disney World, and we had a great time!  My daughter missed the first full week of school.  My wife and I missed the Parents Orientation night.  My daughter did extremely well in school that year, but to this day my wife blames me that she never got to know the teacher very well.  Of course, I promised my wife that I would never take the kids out of school in September again.  But I don’t consider that concession a defeat.  I may be Neurotic, but I’m not Stupid. I know that Happy Wife = Happy Life!

Contributed by: James D. (NDD#152). James is our resident relationship expert and creator of Mouse Planning.


  1. I really do feel sorry for families where the working parent is TOLD when they can go on vacation and it falls during the school year. I’ve had friends over the years where this was true. Summer vacation slots were dole out based on seniority and low “man” on the totem pole had to take vacation during times when school was in session.

    I have also hear people use Disney vacations as a reason why they home school

  2. It’s not the reason that we homeschool, but it’s one of the reasons. We really don’t like the idea of being told when our family can go on vacation. We are also taking the whole month of December for Christmas, and kicking the whole thing off with Holiday Hoopla with WDWCelebrations!

    I honestly feel like the final decision to take kids out of school for Disney (or any vacation) is something that each family should decide for itself, with guidance and support from their school system. Children have a lifetime of non-negotiables ahead of them, but the family years are fleeting. Make the most of them!

  3. End of the school year is a good time too. Unless you have a high schooler and there are finals, most of the meat of the school year is over. The last week of school is wonderful since little gets done anyway that week.

  4. I agree. Are kids are in a virtual school through a charter public school and can learn at their own pace. When we have a trip planned the kids are more than eager to “do school” on a few weekends so they’re ahead by the time the trip arrives.

What do you think?

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