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Ask It Results: Is It Okay to Take Kids Out of School for a Disney Vacation?

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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.

The next question for Ask It is live on Twitter and on the blog here. Have a fantastic week, and we’ll have your results back here next week.


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Julia Mascardo

Former writer, editor, and social media manager of TouringPlans. Embarking on new adventures with husband, kid, and cats.

7 thoughts on “Ask It Results: Is It Okay to Take Kids Out of School for a Disney Vacation?

  • In most countries it is not allowed for kids to miss school without a serious reason. I am not sure how a Disney vacation may be substantiated for school to be seen as acceptable.

  • I’ve seen over and over the argument that “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”. My problem with that concept is that the way school time attendance policies are structured, you NEVER get to take a day off simply because you want to – scheduling a vacation or some time off is NEVER considered an excused absence by these policies. Using the policy from my local district as an example, it would be like if I had a job with NO VACATION TIME whatsoever, and you can only take up to five days every six months that ARE excused (sick, doctor’s appointments, dentist, death in the family) before it becomes a problem, despite the days being excused. Given that kids get sick regularly, and doctor’s offices and dentists are typically only open during school hours, it means that quite a few families are already on the edge of violating the attendance policy just from living their normal lives.

    Obviously this is not a problem for a travel blog to solve. But I saw the argument above indicating that people think this is normal and ok, and I want to remind everyone that no, it is not normal to expect 100% attendance at school. Even some of the worst employers give two weeks vacation (sometimes with sick days included, sometimes with extra sick days) to their employees – they may not always be able to take it on the specific days they want to due to business needs, but there is some ability to take time off without it being an emergency. Part of learning to be an adult is to learn how to balance responsibilities. If school districts can’t be reasonable about their expectations, I see no reason to be honest with them about why my kids aren’t in school.

  • How many schools have groups (i.e. band, choir) that miss school to go to Disney as a school-sanctioned trip? My local school has a band trip to Disney every 3 years. If the school has no issue with a school group missing class time to go to Disney, why should I have any concern with my children missing class for a family trip to Disney?

    • Exactly. Goes beyond just Disney trips. Sports teams in my area miss school to travel on long trips for various things, too. A bit hypocritical if you ask me, and I am also a high school teacher and coach!

  • We just took our kids (elementary and High) out of school for Disney World trip last month. We were suppose to go last Spring but it was postponed. I was extremely worried about it but luckily for us that it is a private school and not only did the principle OK the trip but he gave assignments for the kids to do which was able to excuse some of there days while we were gone. It was good for all of us because I never though about how educational Disney World actually can be until we did this. We got an excused day for Epcot and Animal Kingdom and actually probably could have gotten one for Magic Kingdom if the trip hadn’t been cut short due to Irma and we could have done Hall of Presidents, Carousal of Progress, a paper on steam engines or Walt’s life and the Liberty bell area. I learned to ask your teachers/principles if there is something they can do while there to get some days excused and was prepared to offer suggestions from what I had found online myself but our principle use to live near Disney and was all ready with assignments for them! But I was so relieved and thankful and our family bonded in a way I’m not sure we ever had before!

  • I am a teacher and I voted yes — here’s why. Many of our struggling students are struggling because they don’t have a solid foundation at home. If a family trip is really family time (not phone time), where families can be together in an optimistic and inclusive place, share dreams, and just live in the moment, I think a Disney trip is awesome. Talk to your kids’ teacher and tell them why you think missing school for family time is what you want to do, and most of them will understand. Offer a compromise — kids can keep journals, take pictures, be willing to share / present when they return, etc. All of those are learning opportunities too. On the flip side, if you’re taking your kid out of school with the message that they’re entitled to do whatever they want because they can, that can backfire. So, like anything, if a Disney trip is well thought-out and used as an opportunity to grow, I think it’s just fine :).

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