With the first day of school upon us, there is excitement over seeing friends and starting up a routine, but there is also the feeling of not wanting to let go of summer. However, there’s no need to stow the luggage and give up family time just yet. Even though school is in session, we can keep the fun of summer and the learning of school through real-world educational family travel.
The more affordable school season is also an ideal time to travel due to smaller crowds, lower temperatures and better deals on kid-friendly hotels and attractions. So, here are a few tips for travelling with your kids throughout the school year.
Consult with your child
The most important thing is to ensure that your child is comfortable with missing school. While there are times that they may just be scared of the unknown, in which case missing some school could be a growing experience, there are other times that you should listen to them. If they are feeling behind already, you should focus on in-school learning first before you start the out-of-school education. However, if your child is excelling in their classes and is quick to catch up, then travel away!
Give us much notice as possible
Teachers start prepping weeks (sometimes months) in advance, so your child’s absence can throw off the entire lesson plan. Let teachers know what you’re thinking, and ask how you can work together to make the absence as seamless as possible for everyone. Remember that you are often creating extra work for the teacher, so be appreciative.
Go at the right time
And while you may not be seeking outright permission, ask all teachers and/or coaches about any concerns they may have could alter your plans. Your child may have a special project coming up, be nervous for an upcoming test or have a very important sports game. This is why it’s best to discuss the trip with school before it’s booked.
Similarly, schedule your trip later, as opposed to earlier, in the school year if possible, so that your child has a chance to become familiar with the routine. The first few weeks of school are an adjustment, no matter what your child’s age, so it may not be best to take a trip right away. November/early December is usually a good time to jet off, as the work load in school tends to wind down, the weather at home gets worse, and you can score a deal prior to the Holiday season.
Before and after your trip, put the onus on yourself and your child to find out what will be missed and do the extra work to keep up or catch up. As the parent, ensure that you are continuing their education while you are away too. For younger children, little things like having them read the menu out loud or making exact change to pay can go a long way. For slightly older kids, writing a daily travel journal not only preserves the memories, but also works on their reading and writing. You can also play their sport with them or practice an art like drawing or photography. What better way to appreciate a sport than going to a game where it originated or an art than capturing some of the unique wonders of the world.
The morning you’re back though, kids should be ready to work extra hard again right away, it’s a great lesson for your child to learn about cause and effect and taking responsibility. Anything else sends a bad message about the value of their education.
Offer to share information about the place you visited with the teacher or have your kids share their travel journals or photos with the class. A thank you card or even gift to the teacher after you’re back and a check-in a week later to make sure your little one is on track, will also go far in making allies. This is especially important if you plan on taking regular school-session trips with your child!
If missing school or work isn’t an option but you’re pining for a family vacation, weekends are a great time to hit the beaches, mountains or deserts. From here in Vancouver, you could road trip to Whistler, Kelowna or Seattle, or ferry over to the Island. You could even take a quick flight down to San Francisco, Los Angeles or Palm Springs. A short trip is rejuvenating and a nice transition from summer vacation to a school routine. If you want to stay a bit longer though, consider bringing grandparents for the weekend so they can then bring the kids home by Monday morning while you parents head over to Vegas for a night!
Even better than a normal weekend is a long weekend, though you’ll most likely encounter traffic, delays and upped prices. Traveling on a holiday weekend means kids don’t miss school and you can plan short but guilt-free family vacation. To avoid the chaos, stay clear of major tourist spots, and instead consider smaller destinations or staying with family.
Go all out
If you find that you love travelling with your family and are wanting to do it more and more- considering taking your child out for the full year. Of course this is not feasible for every parent or recommended for every child, but if you can both swing it, it can be an incredible experience for you and your children. A lot of work and planning has to go into this, but could be something to consider.
Overall, as long as your child and their teacher are okay with them missing a few days- there’s no reason not to take advantage of the travel deals and instil some real-life learning while you’re at it!
Read more about the benefits of travelling with young children here.