Wow! You all certainly turned in your assignment for this week’s Ask It. It is a topic that comes up frequently in discussions as soon as kids enter school. With limited vacation time from school, those times of year tend to have high crowd levels and high prices, and so they aren’t the best times to travel on a Disney vacation. In general, almost everyone realizes that education is important, and that school has to be a priority in the lives of children. But is it the highest priority, or are memories made with families more important? So many people have their own views on this, and we got an amazing amount of comments and votes. With more than 3,600 votes, we have answers to the question:
Is it okay to take kids out of school for a Disney vacation?
Here’s your results.
Yes (3,148 votes, 86%)
It comes as no surprise that on a site where people are avid fans of Disney vacations, the overwhelming majority of people agreed that it is fine to take kids out of school for a Disney vacation. Within that approval, however, there were few people who said that every single child should always have that options. Many, many caveats came out during the discussions. It is easier to take kids in elementary school out of school than middle or high school students. There’s testing schedules and extracurricular activities to consider. Grades are a serious consideration–for honor roll students, it is easier for them to catch up than a struggling student. The length of the trip is also something to consider. Adding a day or two for a long weekend isn’t as problematic as a two week mega-vacation. Legal issues are also concerns. In some states, having your child out of school for an extended period of time is a criminal offense. For some parents, the strict rules set forward by school systems mean that private school or homeschooling are a necessary option for a “family comes first” lifestyle. Overall, the educational aspects that can happen at Walt Disney World can be significant, and making memories as a family is so important in an era where it is so easy to become disconnected. No matter what the reason, most parents find a way to justify taking an absence here or there for a Disney trip.
No (495 votes, 14%)
For many who voted no, the ethics of taking a child out of school were a primary concern. Because going to Walt Disney World isn’t an excused absence for almost all school districts, and because you are limited how many unexcused absences a child can have before serious consequences (for the child and the parent), the only way for many people to take a child on a Disney trip is to lie to the school. Rampant cases of Mouse Flu or deaths of distant relatives may get that excused absence, but what lesson does it teach a child that if you want to do something in life, you need to be prepared to lie to get what you want? In addition, it can make extra work for teachers who have to prepare assignments in advance or allow for makeups after the fact. (When I’ve needed to take my child out of school for any reason, I often send gift cards to the teacher to help soften the impact, and I’ve found that teachers are able to find a way to justify it as an excused absence while allowing me to be absolutely honest with them about travel plans.) There’s also the concern that a student who misses something in class will never completely make it up. Even if the information can be made up, experiencing the learning with the class cannot be replicated by worksheets and reading. More than one comment was made about how school is the job of a minor child, and so they need to treat it like any other job–if the job says you can’t take time off, you simply don’t go.
At the end of the day, there is no right answer to this question–every student is different. Every family dynamic is different. Every educational system is different. What works for one family may not work for another. Thankfully, that is one point that all readers agree with, and I am so grateful that our awesome readers were so polite about a very hot-button topic.