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

by on September 27, 2017 39 Comments

Filed under: Just For Fun, kids

It’s Wednesday, and time for another Ask It. This week, it’s a hot-button topic and sure to bring about a lot of discussion. School is back in session, and that makes travel more challenging for parents. There’s many considerations about taking kids out of school–their ages, their academic success, how long you are looking at for a vacation, missing testing or extracurricular activities, and more. From some perspectives, a trip to Disney can be educational, and family time comes first. For others, the cost of taking a child out of school is too high to pay. This week, we want to know what you think:

Is it okay to take kids out of school for a Disney vacation?

  • Yes (85%, 1,017 Votes)
  • No (15%, 177 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,194

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The poll is live here and on Twitter. We’ll have your answers next week, and feel to share your views (or your caveats) in the comments.

Posted on September 27, 2017

39 Responses to “Ask It: Is It Okay to Take Kids Out of School for a Disney Vacation?”

  • Yes, especially in Elementary School. I wouldn’t do it if my kids were behind in class, but otherwise, I see no problem. With smart kids and good parenting, kids learn more at home than they do in school at that age.

  • I think the experience of travel far outweighs what they can learn in a week at school.

  • Vacation can be very educational, but schools hate it because it’s not usually the type of education that is on their standardized tests (from which all their performance and incentives are derived). That’s a problem with the school system, not the vacation.

    In any event, if you’re following a touring plan, you’re probably taking a break mid-day. That’s when the kids can get some school work done if it’s absolutely needed.

  • I answered yes, but a few factors have to be in place before you go. #1 Set up a meeting with your Children’s​ teachers and see if any state or important testing is being done the week you want to go. #2 Ask her for a homework packet way ahead of time, so they have time to get it ready. #4 Make sure you set a time for your child to do the homework, the teacher took her own time to prepare it for them. Most teachers know the importance of family time and unless it will greatly affect your child’s school performance,they will love to see you go!

  • Honestly, no. Unless there are exceptional circumstances (Make A Wish; final trip with ailing relative/friend) I think it sends the wrong message, even in elementary school.

  • Yes, but not often. I think once or twice when they are in the younger part of elementary school is fine and only if they are on target with everything. HOWEVER, I will say that we did it and it didn’t pay off. It turned out to be busier that week that spring break or summer. AND we got sick on the trip and came back sicker. So, all in all, it wasn’t worth it for us.

  • Absolutely. My parents took me out of school to go to Disney for a full week almost every year when I was a kid. I’m sure I missed some things, I know when I got to middle school catching up on missed work became more challenging…but in the end I have a masters degree and a good job in my field, so can you really tell me my education suffered? Those Disney memories with my family are worth more than a bunch of homework assignments I wouldn’t remember now anyway.

  • I actually just took my son out of school earlier this month for a Disney cruise. We did get stranded in Orlando for five extra days for hurricane Irma, which was definitely not ideal, but he is caught up now and I think it was worth it.

  • I say yes in general but there are circumstances where I wouldn’t. My family always went the first or second week in December. We all got pulled out with no issues. Nobody ever fell behind. I’m pulling my son out of Kindergarten this December to do the same. That being said, if my son was struggling I would probably question my decision or would choose not to do so again if it caused problems. I opted out of going with my family once I started college and the trip coincided with the week before my exams. Each family needs to assess their children and talk to their teacher in order to decide if pulling them out of school will work.

  • Yes! We do this every trip to Disney. We teach our children to highly value personal responsibility. We make sure they get a little ahead in school in preparation for the trip. Work hard, play hard.

  • I voted “yes” but my daughter is young (kindergarten) and I’m sure that I will change my mind as she gets older and travel to Disney only during school holidays. My parents used to take my siblings and I out of school to go to Disney and, while it didn’t hurt our academic careers (I have a Masters and my sister is finishing up her PhD), I recall finding it difficult to catch up and stressful to be on vacation knowing that I am also responsible for missed school work.

  • Yes, but I would only do it in Elementary or Middle School and not during major test weeks. We never did a full week off, but did take a few days.

  • I took my three grandkids out of school five times in the last seven years for Disney related trips that were all wonderful. When they got back, none of them missed a beat in school, no negative effect whatsoever

  • Yes, absolutely. We did this all the time until we moved to a few miles from Walt Disney World this year. The school district in Mississippi tried to stop us once so we just pulled our daughter out of school for the rest of the year and began a homeschool program. She is now in 5th grade and still homeschooling so she can go to WDW any day she wants.

    Rob

  • Yes we have across all years of school. Out older two were great students (honor etc) so it was less of a concern. We stress education all the time; I am the son of two school teachers and now my wife is one as well. BUT there is always a need to get away. Having grown up the son of teachers, we only went in the heat of July. Going in October or January is much more fun. Heck my wife took time off last year to go to the Arts Festival. I cannot think of a time when a handful of days at WDW affected my kids.

  • I used to be someone that said I’d never ever take my child out of school for vacation. I’m a teacher, I was never taken out as a kid, and I do absolutely believe that it’s incredibly important to treat school as importantly as we treat a job.

    My DD is now 5, and just started K. She has some special needs, and between school (and dealing with IEPs) and 4-5 private therapies/week, DD doesn’t get as much time to just be a kid as she should. Her school has a 4.5 day weekend at the end of January..not a holiday weekend of any kind. We’re taking her out of school for 2.5 days (1.5 day before the days off begin, 1 day after they end) to go to Disneyland. I’m not second guessing that or bit. Disney is the one place we can go and truly leave all of that behind while we’re there. DD gets to be like any other child for a short few days, and we get to experience her joy. We will need the recharge that Disney brings by the time we get to January. Would I take her out for a full week? No. But if I can make a week long trip happen with only missing 2.5 days of school, we will take it. School is still important, as are her therapies. 2.5 days doesn’t change that.

  • While it would be ideal for kids to only take vacations during breaks, parents aren’t always able to match their vacations to this days – especially in industries where vacations have to be chosen up to a year in advance and follow seniority lines. While parts of Disney can be educational I believe that family time should be the focus, kids are only kids for so long. If I have to take my son out of school to have time together as a family then I will.

  • I voted “no”. However, as a parent I took my son out the day before Thanksgiving break with little consequence. He was an honors student taking dual credit English and went to his first period Eng 101 class because he is the one who didn’t want to miss it. Those saying honors students can get caught up easily are not always correct. Those are students with a heavier work load and personalities that will stress out knowing they are missing stuff. As a middle school teacher, I can tell you that any student who misses a week of school for anything from Disney to the flu has a very hard time making up the work. You cannot make up missed lectures or instruction. Labs are hard to do as a make up. Younger kids might not have a hard time, but as students get older it can add a lot of stress.

  • Seems to me that almost everyone is responding with rationale that focuses upon their children and their families. But I’d like to ask if anyone has considered the impact that taking kids out of school has on the teachers and all the extra work that they need to put in to accommodate school time vacations? My wife is a teacher and I can attest to the fact that her workload increases when she has to deal with multiple instances of students missing time from class.

    • Karl –
      To answer your question, yes I absolutely think about the impact on teachers. At this point in my child’s school (Kindergarten), I don’t feel missing 2.5 days will significantly impact the teacher either. As I said earlier, I’m a teacher myself, so I have an idea of the impact that taking kids out can have. The teacher and I have a great relationship, and I’m confident that we can work together to minimize the impact both on her (the teacher) and my daughter.

  • As long as parents realize that some school departments have attendance policies, and that it gets harder for the kids to do make up work as they advance through school, I don’t see that there’s an issue. Just remember that your kid is going to have to pay the consequences of your deciding to take him/her out of school, whether it’s detention for unexcused absences, grade drops from missed work/quizzes/tests, or just stressing from catching up after returning while learning new material (gets really ugly this way in high school). Some schools don’t care, but some DO, and your kid is the one who has to deal with whatever position the school takes.

  • Absolutely! Families already don’t spend enough time together! This is a great way to bond as a family and they can make up the school work! You will never regret taking your kids on this vacation, no matter what they miss at school! Family first!

  • Yes but my 11-year-old has to write a report for me on all of the countries in Epcot and answer a pop quiz on each as we tour the World.

  • Absolutely…and have often. LESS public school is especially a good thing for children.

  • I said no, but that is for missing more than a day or two. I am a third grade teacher and regularly
    have students miss a week or more for vacation (not always to Disney). Most of what happens during the school day is not easily made up, even in elementary school. Children who are absent miss the books read aloud and discussions. They miss the strategy lessons and partner and group work. Lessons often build on each other and students coming back in the middle of a unit most likely have missed important information. People who want to take their kids out of school will, but parents should understand that their children will miss things. A few worksheets will not make up for the time spent learning with their peers. However, do I think a vacation can be a wonderful learning experience? Of course! I am planning my vacation for next August because I can’t take a vacation when school is in session. I do wonder if the parents who take their kids on vacation during school would mind if their children’s teachers took a week off for fun….

  • If you decide to take your kids out for a vacation, understand that your child will get behind and will not really “catch up”. Too much goes on in class for your child to have the same level of understanding and the same knowledge of whatever they missed as the kids who were there. They might be able to make up the paperwork, and get the credit, but the depth of knowledge will be quite a bit different than if they had been in class. In a way it’s like if you try to come in to a movie a third of the way through or skip the middle of a book—you’ll have an understanding of the characters and a bit of the plot, but you’ll always have the sense that you’re missing pieces that would help make sense of the details. As the parent, you get to make that decision for your child and the school will try to accommodate your child as best as they can, but there will always be holes in their understanding. I’ve had so many student over the years who have commented at the end of the year, “I just never really caught up after we went on that vacation”. No judgement—we’re all doing the best we can by kids, but really think hard about the consequences for your student before you pull them out for a vacation.

  • Yes, that is your child. Children are at school for 7+ hours a day, come home with homework and endure “adult” responsibilities at the expense of their childhood. For what? A better paycheck? It’s sad that we are having to ask should we or shouldn’t we?, You mom and dad make this decision!

  • In Germany where I live, it is not allowed to take children out of school. It is a criminal offense. If the police catches you at the airport (and they do control!) you have to pay lots of money. Schools may not give children “free time” (except when there is a funeral or something like that). Homeschooling is also not allowed.

  • Yes. And I suggest that we pull our children from public school during the week of standardized testing, because they won’t miss a thing that’s the least bit relevant to their education.
    If they’re in private school, work with their teachers to enhance aspects of the trip into relevant learning experiences.

  • Here in certain parts of the UK you are fined for removing your children from School. Not in NI where I live. My parents took me out of school to go to WDW since I was 9 (im now 31) and my education certainly didn’t suffer and we went for 2 – 3 weeks – I graduated from University and have a good job my little brother is the same. I think you really need to do it based on your childs abilities. Would I take my daughter our of school at the moment yes shes only at nursery. If was an important year such as GCSE or Alevel then no I wouldn’t.

  • I voted no. Elementary or earlier – sure. Middle and High school – no! We took the kids out but it was always around a long weekend and just made the long weekend a bit longer. Once they hit middle school the work was too much. It is important to spend time together as a family, it is important to ensure your children understand priorities and mom and dad saving money is not a priority over education or sports responsibilities. Now we go over the 4th of July and we love it!

  • Yes for some, no for others! It depends on the child’s age, how good a student s/he is, and how rigorous a school s/he attends. I preferred not to take my kids out during the elementary school years, but particularly during the earlier grades it wouldn’t have been a big deal.

    We viewed middle school as prep for high school — a time to start learning how to manage your time and juggle multiple responsibilities. We wanted to convey to them that school is their primary responsibility, and taking them out for a week to go to Disney World would have been at cross-purposes to that message. Besides that, our kids took honors and advanced classes, and getting caught back up again would have been stressful.

    Now both are in high school, and they’re at the point where missing even just a day can be a real drag. There’s no way I’d take them out for an entire week. But the last day of each quarter, schools operate on a early-release schedule, not much happens on that day, and it precedes a long weekend. Taking the short-day off is easy and we can manage a solid 4-day long weekend at those times.

  • Absolutely. Not everyone’s vacation schedule lines up with the school schedule. My spouse travels a lot for work especially in the summer. So, we travel when the family’s schedule allows us to travel.

  • I’m sort of shocked by the number of teachers on here that say students will never catch-up. I was in a pull-out program in elementary school 2 days a week for years. I was not in my normal class 2 out of every 5 days for majority of my elementary school years. I was off in the gifted program that, while super fun and interesting, was not tied at all to the normal lessons of my regular class.

    Some children are reading at 3 or 4. I was doing basic Algebra at 6. To act like I never would have caught up in math to my 4th grade class doing long division is ridiculous.

    This is why parents should have the final say on pulling their kids out, not district-wide attendance policies. Of course my experience is not standard or average, but my parents were better judges of that than a far-away administrator.

  • I have taken our kids out of school to go to WDW. We have tried to schedule it around days off as the maximum our school district allows for travel within a school year is 5 days off. There are some things that factor greatly into this decision: trying to schedule around standardized tests, trying to choose a time when the school year is winding down (May) so that they don’t miss as much work, etc. Now that some of my children are in high school, it is MUCH more difficult to take them out of school due to the crazy amount of work that they will miss and now that some play high school sports, that is another factor to consider. (We use to travel the last week in August before school starts but now pre-season fall sports in August prevents this.) I say take your kids out while they are young b/c the older they get, the harder it gets.