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Taking your kids out of school

Kids in Jaisalmer
    Sometimes you want to take a trip when school is in session. For example, the best time to travel in India is winter (no summer monsoons), or you want to extend the spring break to take a longer trip abroad. It may entail taking your kids out of school. It is far easier if your kids are in elementary school. It gets harder to take kids out in middle school, and by high school, your kids might prefer an exchange program or volunteering abroad in summer.
      Usually my family travels in the summer, but I’ve taken my two boys out of school on two occasions. They missed two weeks of school when we went to India over Christmas one year. I arranged with the kids’ teachers to do independent study, they wrote in their journals every day and made up missed homework and class work. Years from now, those journals will bring it all back.
      One fall, I took the kids out of school for three months to travel to Europe and Egypt. This trip was prompted by our move from Southern to Northern California, a big change in our lives anyway. I checked with the new school, told them my plans, purchased some home schooling books for 3rd and 5th grades, and we took off. The books were mostly to assuage my guilt, but the kids worked through them, and when they started school again in January, they had no difficulty easing into their new classes.
      What they experienced in those three months was wonderful. After spending two months in Amsterdam, the kids said, "Why don’t people know more about Dutch history, it’s really interesting." In fact, they got a framework for European history on that trip. After a month in Egypt, they gained a background in Ancient Egypt, a core curriculum topic for 6th graders in our locals chools as it turns out. And from all our trips, my kids have acquired a sense of different cultures past and present, from their own first-hand experience.
  It’s easier than you might think to take your kids out of school. In general, you can arrange with your kid’s school to make up the work or do independent studies. If you are already home schooling your kids, it wouldn’t be any different. Or, if you are "between schools," as we were, it was very easy. At first I thought, there must be a catch someone, but there wasn’t. As long as we left the country, we didn’t even need to register for home schooling or independent study. Check with your school or school district to find out what is required.

Kids vividly remember their travel experiences. My boys are now teens. This summer, before heading off to college, my son was musing about his high school years. He said, "Compared to the life of a typical Indian, as a teenager, the most important problem to me would be insignificant to them." A trip with your kids at any age, to any county, will be unforgettable.

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