Beth L. (NDM#183) (20 Posts)

Beth was born and raised in upstate New York. She is a happily married teacher, now SAHM to her two young sons. As a child, she and her parents would go to Walt Disney World nearly every year, creating a love for all things Disney that flourished well into adulthood. Beth worked hard to convince her husband to spend their ten day honeymoon at Walt Disney World in 2001. In May 2009, Beth's dream of taking her two boys to see the magic came true. It was a three generation experience, including the original Disney dreamers, her parents. Now her entire family has been bitten by the Disney bug and eagerly anticipate their next adventure to Florida. Beth's love for all things Disney has helped to inspire her at home, in the classroom, and beyond. She always has a camera close by to catch magical memories for her blog,

Photo Credit: Beth L.

There are definitely some controversial topics when it comes to the Disney Driven Life and the world of education. The first one that cropped up into my head brought me back to December 2008. It was the winter when my husband and I decided to book our first ever family trip to Walt Disney World. When we looked at dates, no matter what we did, school days were involved.

Would I really be THAT parent and take my child out of school to head to Walt Disney World?

Yes, this teacher on hiatus jumped at the opportunity!

Making this decision did not come easily. The teacher in me knew that my son would miss things in kindergarten while out of school. At the same time, it was an amazing opportunity that would be filled with family, fun, and yes lots of learning. In the end, May was the best time of year for us. It caused the least issues for time off for my husband, it was not a state testing time at school, and by golly the prices and perks for traveling were high.

Of course, the hardest thing for me to do was when I went to tell NHL’s teacher that he would be missing a week of school. To get the best deal for our trip, we would be keeping our kindergarten kid out of school for five days. I have to admit, I felt guilty. Although I was super excited about seeing the looks on my children’s faces as they saw the Magic Kingdom for the first time, I knew I had to see the teachers face first. Add into that, the principal’s face since I also had to notify her.

We were very lucky and never heard anything negative from our son’s school. The teacher told us not to worry about anything and the principal knew that our son had only been out a few days for Jewish holidays. In addition to this, our son was excelling academically and they knew that as a teacher, I would help out at home to catch him up on anything that he missed. Although I could not make up that contact time with his teachers and peers, I certainly could teach any skills within the academic areas that were missed.

This post is now a second start to this topic. You see, I actually wrote another one that was ready to publish. For the ending, I wanted to ask my teacher friends and family members to weigh in on the topic. What I did not expect was a hot topic exploding that included some finger pointing. Many good points were made on both sides, including items I already had written. Still, it made me realize that this needs more than just a simple post to address such a touchy item.

So my plan is to break this up. Part 2 will be be a teachers thoughts on taking children out of school. I will include how my views have changed a bit and share the extra work involved for a teacher when a child misses school. Part 3 will be the view and responsibilities of the families that need to take their children out of school. This will include items that you need to think about and things to check with school about.

Let’s get this discussion started here. Have you ever decided that your family needed to travel during the school year? How was your experience with this? Please weigh in on how the teacher/principcal/school reacted, how your child made up the work missed, and if the overall experience was positive/negative and why. 

FYI, we have now taken NHL out of school three times for trips. The photo above is my second grader doing his work on the plane to Orlando in March.

Contributed by: Beth L. (NDM#183) Beth is the DDL Education Blogger. She is also the creator ofThe Angel Forever.

22 thoughts on “The Mickey Mouse Over School Dilemma – Part 1

  1. Can’t wait to see the other two parts! Will be taking my 4th grader out for 5 days in jan/feb for WDW. For the first time. In a brand new school district for us. I’m starting to freak out a bit about it.

  2. We took our oldest DD out of kindergarten for a whole week too in 2010 .. and I’d do it again. At the time, I didn’t worry too much since our kindergarten was only 1/2 day at the time. And we were able to get all the work to take with us – and DD was excited to work on it in our hotel room. All in all, she didn’t miss that much and never fell behind. I think as long as there’s no state testing going on at the time and the kids are not struggling in school, it’s OK to take them out for vacations. 

  3. We’re planning on it in a couple of years.  Hubby and I are both engineers and figure we can definitely assist our then 2nd grader with any school work she’s going to miss.  And I’m sure I’ll create some educational things for her to do while we’re there too.  I know my parents took me out of school in 4th grade for a trip to Hawaii.  I had to do all my homework on the trip and then do a class presentation on Hawaii when we got back.

  4. I’m a high school teacher who has taken herself out of school (going on) three times for trips. In that time, my niece & nephew have also missed school. As for students missing, it all depends on the parents. If the parent stays responsible and makes sure the child catches up ASAP, then I see no issue with a child missing. You and your child have to be ready for the consequences though: sometimes those missed days can really put a child behind, and it’s a struggle for them to catch up.  Sometimes a child getting their work ahead can really help though. It’s an individual choice based on your child and their capabilities.

    As a teacher, I leave my students in the hands of a math certified substitute and with lessons that are NOT busy work. They do not miss days of instruction due to me being out. I believe that I have as much of a right as anyone to use my personal days for personal reasons and to get to take advantage of off-peak season prices and crowds. (For those who are about to jump on me: I do NOT get paid during the summers. I work 9 months of the year, and last year I had 12 days that I didn’t work for FREE on stuff for my job.)

    No matter who you are, no matter the decision you’re making, it’s not up to anyone else to judge you. Sorry to go off about this, but I’ve seen some pretty heated and hateful debates on this subject on some message boards, and the misunderstandings in those drive me insane! To all – have fun on your upcoming trips! 😀

  5. Joanna – Thank you for your input on this subject. I think it’s interesting to hear from a teacher that had taken time off during the school year as well. I have to admit, this subject is very touchy. When I asked a question on my private Facebook account I was attacked and never saw it coming. I agree that it is very much an individual decision, but parents, teachers, and kids all need to realize certain factors that will hopefully assist for a smooth transition away from school. In the end, it is the family that knows what will work best in their situation.

  6. Amy – So long as you work with the school and know your children, I would not hesitate. It’s a hot topic because some believe that kids should never miss any days unless it is for illness or an emergency in the family. I do not agree with that. As a teacher, you need to plan ahead and work with the school to make it easier on all involved so the child missing time will bounce back quickly.

  7. Traci, I have already tracked down state testing dates. I know those are a no-no since it makes a mess for the school and district. As my kids get older we will see how time away from school goes. If it starts to become and issue, then we will certain not do something that would jeopardize their educations.

  8. So far I agree. As my kids get older and further into their schooling, I do stop and regroup to make sure it’s the right choice for the current time.

  9. Hollyann – Good luck and have a magical trip! My guess is that you will not have a problem. Have you talked with your 4th grader’s teacher to see what their protocol is? Each teacher/school/district has something different. Just plan ahead and I’m sure they will work with you and be reasonably understanding 🙂

  10. That’s really the crux of the matter: it’s a family decision. As a teacher, if your child is struggling, and you tell me you’re taking them out for a few days, I can politely let you know that I feel this is going to cause an issue for your child.  Beyond that, it’s my job to HELP you help your kiddo in whatever way I can.  Does it take me more time? Yes.  Does that bug me?  Honestly… sometimes, but I know that in the end its up to the child to catch up.

    I, too, have been attacked for taking time off. It’s not fun…

  11. Joanna – I can only imagine you have been attacked. Still remember what happened when I needed time off for a medical procedure once. 

    I do believe that it is important for parents to think about all of the pros and cons. This includes what it means in extra work for them AND the teacher. Plus they need to think about the kids and how they do when they miss classroom time. I am bracing myself for IF/WHEN we decide to do this in my son’s new school. You have a great point, the professional teacher does not complain about this, but can express concern. Perfectly acceptable since they are the ones that are in the classroom day in and day out.

  12. We took our kids out several times during the elementary years, and never regretted it once! Sometimes the only way to reunite a family that is spread across continents is to compromise on schedules. 

    My kids developed stronger bonds with family they rarely get to see, and they learned at Disney, as well as in countries around the world.

    Now that my oldest is in high school, she wouldn’t even consider missing school for travel. The work is too demanding! But the private school schedule is much more conducive to travel. The kids get a couple of weeks in the winter and a couple of weeks in the spring, along with several long weekends. So the kids work hard, but they can take real breaks too. And the family can plan vacations around those time slots.

    Oh, and they end at the very beginning of June – as opposed to the end of June like many of the public schools.

    Just a thought, but if public schools schedules were more generous with vacation schedules, parents wouldn’t have to take time off during the school year.

    But that’s another controversial subject, right?

  13. I just want to chime in on the last point, about the restrictive public school schedules.  Our school doesn’t end until mid-June, and starts again in mid-August.  If the student is in band, football, etc., practices for those start at the beginning of August.  They’ve essentially whittled down our kids’ “summer” vacation down to 6 weeks, which don’t necessarily correspond with the parents’ schedules.  Because of this, I don’t feel guilty at all about taking my kids out during the school year.

  14. Maybe it’s because my parents took me out of school for my first trip to Disney World, but I have no problem with it.  We’ve done it twice, when our children were younger.  We went the week after Thanksgiving, which I figured would be a natural “break” point for the teacher’s lesson plans, and our kids had the week of Thanksgiving to complete their assignments so they weren’t burdened with them at Disney World.  Now that my daughter’s in 11th grade, though, I wouldn’t dream of it.  It’s just too hard for her to get caught up.

  15. Sandra –  The schools have to be in session for a certain number of days to receive federal funding. For public schools it is more complicated to work this into other events, holidays, and things that are within the calendar year. Schools in different regions and private schools also have spring breaks and summer vacations that are quite different to allow less over crowding issues. I know our spring break is drastically different than those in Florida, plus we have mid-winter break to avoid high heating costs.

  16. Mark, I think that school schedules have little to do with whether the school is private or public. Public schools must be in session 180 days to receive aid. Those days before the school year for band/football and other practices do not count. They are responsibilities that students have when they opt into one of those activities. With that said, I am bracing myself since my oldest just started band. Walking his instrument into school today in the snow was just the start of our adventure. Families need to do what is best for them, but need to think about the consequences for the child involved.

  17. Mark, I agree. I think people that grew up going on family vacations during school think it is second nature. I was one of them, until I was the teacher in the classroom. Then, once I was the parent that was home and had the other options of time it was different again. It sounds like you looked at the big picture of the best times that were less of an impact on everyone and that is huge. Agree, high school changes the entire situation completely. Thanks for stopping by and weighing in.

  18. We take our children out each year for the 5 consecutive days they are “allotted”.  I was a public school teacher (before kiddos) and never had an issue with a family wanting to spend time together for a vacation.  In today’s society we are running out of family time as it is- summer is not the only time people can committ to time away for a variety of reasons. Out side of the Christmas holiday break, we have very nothing in the way of days off in a row. Our local private schools have lots of options for off summer travel for families.  I cannot help but feel they value these trips more than public schools.  I certainly understand the importance of school and education, BUT, the way I see it- in 20 years my daughter is NOT going to remember what she did for a week in 3rd grade (K, 5th grade or 11th grade for that matter) but she will remember the memories made in WDW (or this year it was an island vacation).  She will not be scarred for life educationally for missing a week to gain family experiences.  We will play each year by ear of course, but as of now we have taken our kids out for a week each winter.  It is worth it to us as a family to work hard to make up the work and be in sync with the rest of the students. 

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