Why I don’t mind letting my child miss school for a family vacation

When I was younger, I remember my dad often suggesting, “Why don’t we go for our vacation a month before the school closes for summer? It will be cheaper, cooler and less crowded.” Invariably, my mom would shoot it down. “What? And miss studies? No.” And since the sincere student in me would tremble at the thought of red ‘absent’ marks in the calendar book, I would take mom’s side. Outnumbered, my grumbling dad would plan our vacations according to my school schedules.

Now, I don’t seem to remember quadratic equations or the chronological order of wars taught in class, but what I do remember till date are the bus rides we took through the snowy mountains of Manali, the giggling with cousins in the mango orchard of our ancestral home and the jungle safaris at Kanha among many other warm memories.

Times then were different. Being absent from school for a family vacation was like committing a cardinal sin and it pulled you further away from the coveted, ‘100% attendance award’ at the end of the year. But now, given a chance, my explorer husband and I wouldn’t hesitate much before whisking our sons away for a few days of family holiday. Just last year, we took fifteen days off from my elder son’s school to jet set into autumn –coloured London and had a blast. Did my son miss out a lot from school? Probably. But the ‘glass half full’ person in me would rather think of what he gains when on vacations like these. Here’s how I look at it.

I don’t mind my child missing school for a family vacation because…..

 He learns even on vacation

Missing school will mean my child will miss learning a few things from the curriculum, yes. But learning doesn’t have to limit itself within the school’s premises, right? On one of our untimely trips to the beaches of Konkan, my son learnt about tides. He learnt about lighthouses and what they’re used for. We found fascinating little shells and sea creatures. He designed a sandcastle complete with moats and tunnels. Those were solid lessons from a variety of subjects way beyond his syllabus. And if you ask me, they’re priceless ones.

There is value addition

I’ve observed my son subtly learning some priceless values on family vacations. He learns to be responsible when keeps an eye out for his little suitcase in the train. He learns patience when he waits for his turn in the lines. He socializes with different type of people who speak different dialects. And these are only few of the important pearls he learns as the boundaries and experiences of travel are so vast.

There’s big, fat family bonding

The cake, icing and cherry of all family vacations is the bond we share as a unit. We catch up on each from the time we plan, pack and through the entire trip. That itself is an incentive enough for us to try and make as many happen.

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There is more peace

Sometimes, travelling a few days before or after holiday season works out to be less noisy and more pocket-friendly. It’s not always that tickets, leave from work, schedules and budgets manage fit into a neat jigsaw of a vacation plan.  So if missing a few school days is required to make a great family holiday possible, then why not?

My child learns to cope up

Now the old sincere student in me sometimes worries about my son falling behind in his studies due to his absence. But then again, isn’t learning to cope up a handy skill? He might have to put in a little more to get up to speed with the others, but with a little help, it’s possible and if you ask me, worth it.

Now, I don’t intend to pull my child away for family trips for days on end. School is important and there are always factors to look at, such as the grade he’s in, important school events (exams, sports days etc.), the duration and the frequency of taking off days. His responsibilities to his temple of learning shall remain, but I’m that kind of mom who’d be happier watching her child lift up a beach bucket full of happy memories than an attendance award.

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