Friday, 11 September 2015

School Time Holidays Vs Non School Time Holidays, Would You Take Your Child Out Of School?

Here we are again in September, Little Miss T has gone back to school and already we are thinking about a holiday for next year. The problem is that holidays cost so much more in the school breaks than they do in the school term, so whats a parent to do? I have always been a great believer that kids experience more in their childhood when they actually visit a place than sitting in a classroom looking at images in a book. Lets face it, what would you rather do? Sit in a dull classroom on a rainy November day learning about a place like Paris and learning French or would you rather be in Paris, climbing the Eiffel Tower or visiting the Louvre and seeing The Mona Lisa yourself and realising how tiny it is in real life? Little things like this cannot be taught in a classroom. Education is best learned in an environment your in, isn't this the reason for teachers taking us on school trips?

When the older kids were little I booked 2 weeks in Jamaica, it was the first real holiday I had taken them on and I was so proud to be able to take the children somewhere that they could learn about a different way of life, see a different part of the world for themselves and learn about a tiny little Island that they had only ever seen on the Disney movie 'Cool Runnings'. I told the school and even 10 years ago they weren't too keen on you taking children out of school in term time, but they actually supported my choice as it coincided with a year 6 project on Jamaica and they asked if we could bring some things back to support the project. When Kimmy returned to school, she was a little bit of a step ahead of everyone as she had been to Dunns River Falls, she had drunk from a coconut, she understood how far away Jamaica was from us and she understood the slightly different language they have and most importantly she understood the poverty that isn't discussed in school. She saw it all first hand - I was shocked at the poverty. We left our room cleaner a tip and she was so grateful as it was the equivalent to a weeks wages, when in reality is was only about £30. You don't learn or experience as much unless you go to a place and I am sure that schools agree otherwise they wouldn't take pupils on residential trips or school trips out to places.

Little Miss T started school last year and as I work in retail it is often quite difficult to get time off work when I want it, I work in a big store and there are loads of people with families, so its not fair that I book all of the school holidays off to spend with my child. So often life actually gets in the way of you taking time off with your child and you have to make do with taking time in the term time. Parents deserve to spend quality time with their children, when ever it is. In December last year, I was offered an all expenses paid trip to Wales for 5 days, Little Miss had never been to Wales and I accepted without any doubt. We needed a break as a family and I knew about the fines, but was willing to pay it. I approached the school and I told them what I was planning to do and they gave me the time off as authorised absence, but they looked at her general school attendance and as it was good, they were happy for her to take 5 days off.
So what did she learn at Bluestone Park in Wales?

  • She learn't Welsh (language)
  • She learn't how far away Wales was & that the country was connected to England with a bridge (geography)
  • She tasted different foods (Home Ec)
  • She took a trip to Dublin (geography)
  • She used different currency and added it up as she shopped (maths)
  • She took a bus tour of Ireland (History/geography)
  • She visited castle ruins in Pembrokeshire (history)
  • She made a holiday book of her memories (writing skills)
  • She learn't what it was like to live in a small community as the holiday park is built around a tiny village where no cars were allowed on site.
  • She learn't how to make Guinness in the Guinness factory (Okay, maybe that was for mummy)
So could she of learn't all of that in the class room? Maybe, but would she of taken it in and still be talking about it these days? No! So in this case, I know I made the right choice by taking her out of school to go away with me. 

I never take my family away on holiday just to sit on the beach, I take my children away to learn about different places, to feed their mind with different experiences. So to me every holiday is an education, that can't be taught in the class room and when you consider that a holiday can jump in price by £500 or more in the space of a week when there is a half term from school, then it is very wrong and I think that holiday firms are guilty of exploiting families with children. Shame on you all! If the price was the same all year round then people wouldn't be taking their children out of school to go on holidays. at the start of the year I wrote a post highlighting the difference in holiday prices and you can find it here. 

I personally would recommend that people take their children out of school for a holiday providing they have a good attendance rate, the holiday is a once in a lifetime trip or an educational one and providing you are honest with the school about it. I would say book the holiday, tell the school and pay the £60 per child, per parent and be done with it. (easier said than done if you have a big family). Children learn things from their parents as much as they do the school, If I didn't believe this then I wouldn't have taken my kids on many of their trips. Having a child that ended up with a degree and another who works in other countries sometimes for top golf clubs, shows it never affected my kids.

Join in the much talked about conversation here, whats your opinion?

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