Is it OK to take holidays in term time?

May 14, 2014

This article was written for Annabel & Grace, which is now part of Rest Less.

family hols

It occurred to me that we are now in the throes of spring; the daffodils have been and gone, the goslings on the river have hatched and I’m still trying to get through all the Easter eggs. However much I love this season, my thoughts turn to bikinis, suntans, cellulite and holiday deals. Yes it’s that time of year when we are all searching our bank accounts, working out if a holiday is viable and, if so, how decadent can we go? With dreams of crystal clear waters, golden sandy beaches and hot weather, the search is on. The internet becomes our best friend and we immerse ourselves bargain hunting for the ‘perfect holiday’. Polite playground chit chat has moved on from ‘what are you doing over Easter’ to ‘so, have you made any plans to go away for the summer?’ Goodness, what a hive of activity the summer holiday trade must be!

With the frenzy of the school summer break comes the pressure of finding the best deal for your budget. We are all aware of the dreaded school holiday price peaks! Yet still we grin and bear it and book ourselves on a compromise holiday. So, I got thinking, what if I wasn’t happy to compromise anymore? What would my options be? The very simple answer to that is to bunk off school, like the rebel I always was.

panicYou see, I recently felt a stab of envy. Whilst standing in the rain, waiting at the school gates, photos on Facebook pop up with friends and their offspring either bikini clad increasing their vitamin D consumption or rosy cheeked, grinning like Cheshire cats with their brood finding their ski legs! Bunking off before or after the ‘official’ holiday dates offers the pleasure of quieter breaks and understandably much better deals. Who in their right mind would not be tempted to save a third on their holiday merely for bunking off school for a few days? And just think of the upgrade you could afford and all the extra clothes you could buy for your holiday… a suitcase of Melissa Odabash swimwear and kaftans! And an extra happy hour Margarita cocktail whilst watching the sun go down….sigh…..

consHowever, I can’t ignore the responsible side of me which quietly questions what example am I setting if I prioritise a suntan and playing in the pool over learning fractions and germinating sunflower seeds? The main argument is that holidays are an education; learning about different countries, cultures, food, climate and language. It’s fun to learn a few basic words e.g. please, thank you, hello, goodbye, one beer for my dad please. Maths can be used anywhere in the world, converting currency or adding up the bar bill. And there’s nothing quite like seeing a camel or a kangaroo up close to inspire curiosity and questions about a country. Being away from home instils a new found confidence to meet different people and to make new friends, something that is fundamental to their social education.

Bunking off school proves an example to our children that every argument has to be weighed up sensibly and that there are always consequences to our actions. They may be having fun on holiday whilst all their friends are at school, but they must respect there will be school work to be caught up on. So, with all of that laid out as a very basic argument, I’ve booked my flights and hotel, my internet search is now focused on a holiday wardrobe and will invest the (remaining) money we’ve saved to take them skiing next year!

educateOn a serious note for a moment, the dictating of when we can and can’t take our children out of school is ridiculous. I understand that some families may have attendance issues but what about the rest of us who have never missed a day off school except for acceptable reasons i.e. illness, hospital appointments etc. Why can’t we take them out of school for a few days, maybe not every year, but within realistic and sensible timeframe? I believe it’s time that the politicians, media and boards of education would put time, money and energy into fighting not the parents but the travel industry. That’s ultimately where the blame lies, not at the feet of parents like me letting out their rebellious streak by whisking themselves off for a bit of bonding family time.

Are term time holidays worth it? There’s lots of useful information in this article by Ella Moss. Let us know what you think – should you stay or should you go?

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