My wife and I took our daughter out of Kindergarten for a week so we could go on a family vacation. Prior to our vacation, I researched the school handbook about pre-arranged absences and found the following, “Student absence due to prearranged family vacations is strictly considered unexcused.” Also included was a partial list of consequences for excessive unexcused absences, including:
-Disqualification from select school programs
-Sanctions by Department of Family and Children
Wow! I had no idea that taking a family vacation could result in such serious consequences.
I understand the reasons behind the rules. These rules were put in place to keep kids from not showing up to school one or two days a week, all year long. But, our situation seemed different, Eloise had missed only one day (medically excused) all year. Her attendance was not an issue.
I also understand that as kids get older school attendance is crucial. A senior in high school may not be able to miss a week of school, but a Kindergartener? Kindergarten isn’t even required by law.
When I was a teacher, parents pulling kids out of school for a vacation was always a hot topic among my colleagues. I was usually happy for my students when they were given the opportunity to travel with family. If the student was getting good grades I would omit assignments and tell them to have a good time. While many of my co-workers agreed with me, some felt differently, they would pile on as much homework as they could. I even knew one or two teachers that would issue extra work for kids missing school.
There is another side to this issue, the academic benefits of traveling. It was great to travel with my family. My daughter could have read a book or watched a movie about the Rocky Mountains and the Continental Divide, but I prefer she see and touch them, breathe in the thin, crisp mountain air and never forget them.
I must say, I have learned my lesson. Next time I will play by the rules and skip the family vacation so I can leave my daughter in school.
Or maybe I’ll just do what everyone else does, and call her in sick.