By Rachel Hoeing
Should you let your child skip school to head to the beach? How about a week at Disney? What about just a Friday here or there to go out of town with some friends? Or what about skipping school to visit the annual local fair? How about skipping to attend a sporting event?
Let’s rule out sickness and funerals and focus on the optional reasons you may let your children miss school. I would love to hear your opinions on this matter today. Obviously a big factor in these decisions will be the ages of your children, so be sure to weigh in on that as well.
Prior to starting this website, I was an Elementary School teacher and taught grades 1st, 3rd and 5th. I’d love to share some thoughts from my personal point of view as a teacher and then as a parent, just to get the conversation started.
From the teacher in me:
No matter the grade level, teachers are always introducing new concepts. It is extremely important for kids to be present (physically and emotionally!) in order to grasp new concepts. One-on-one time with students is unfortunately somewhat limited, so when a child misses the first few days of a new topic, it can be very tough for that child to catch back up once they return to school. For example, think how tough it is to understand the concept behind multiplication. If children miss the first few days when that topic is introduced, they can easily catch up by memorizing their facts, but will they ever truly grasp the fundamentals?
You also have to keep in mind that sicknesses can pop up at any time, so if you just took off a week for Disney only to return and catch the flu, there could be two weeks of school missed, which is very, very valuable time and information.
My vote as a teacher is to attend school as often as possible and a vacation or “fun day” here or there isn’t too bad as long as it does not become a habit.
From the parent in me:
Last October, my Dad asked if my son, Jake, could join him to go see an Indy Car race in Tennessee. He told me that if Jake came along they would probably need to drive to TN on Friday which means he would miss a day of school. I went back and forth trying to decide if I should send him or not. He was in 3rd grade last year, which as we all know is an important year for testing, and he also had just missed a day of school the week prior. After chatting with my husband, we decided to allow him to go because I thought it would be a good bonding experience for Jake and his grandfather.
They had a great trip and Jake came home with all kinds of Indy paraphernalia. He even wrote a story about it in class the next day and how my dad called him “co-pilot” on their road trip. A little over a month later, very unexpectedly, my dad passed away. When it came time to tell my kids what had happened, one of the first things Jake said was, “I am so glad I got to go to that Indy Car race with Poppop.” What a blessing. Looking back, do you think I cared if Jake had missed a writing prompt that day? Not in the least.
So, my vote as a mom is that when your child has a rare opportunity to make a memory with your family, go for it!
When I take a look at both sides (teacher and parent), I view skipping school like I do most things in life … all in moderation. I think it is OK to miss school once in a while for a memorable event, but skipping school for things that could just as easily be done on the weekend or in the summer … probably not the best choice. And by once in a while, I mean once every few years, not once a month! My opinion is to choose your “skip days” wisely but make sure your kids know that school should always be a top priority!
Oh, and before the school board hunts me down I will give a disclaimer that I don’t encourage truancy! 🙂
Now tell us, what is your vote?