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Welcome to our family travel tips series where we share our top tips for the biggest challenges you experience around family travel, including how to balance school and travel.
We took a poll alongside our sponsor Allianz Travel to find out what the biggest challenges were when traveling with kids.
Those top challenges were:
- Travel is too expensive
- How to create a travel experience the whole family will love
- How to balance school with travel
- How to manage a picky eater on the road
Surprisingly, the one that came up at number three was how to balance school with travel.
I get it!
Traveling during school breaks is expensive and crowded. And I bet all your work colleagues are fighting for those vacation days as well!
This is really not an easy challenge to overcome. If you’re in the school system, unfortunately you do have a few conditions and rules to abide by.
That’s the system.
You can only do the best you can with what you have from where you are.
I have a few simple tips which may help spark some ideas for managing the desire to travel more with the intrusion of school. Damn that education!
If you prefer video format, press play below to hear our tips on balancing school with travel.
I have a lot of opinions and experience on this topic. I was a school teacher for 15 years. I’ve been a global traveler for 20 years and a homeschooling mum for the last five.
In that expert opinion, I do believe travel is the most educational and transformative experience your children can ever have.
I don’t believe we should stop them from having this experience because of school. How controversial!
I know there are rules and regulations and you are concerned about your children fall behind. It’s vital this be your number one concern.
If you follow my tips below, not only will your child NOT fall behind, but they will THRIVE, and you may just get your child’s teacher and principal on board!
1. Find out the Rules
Most importantly, ensure you know the rules of your county or country before you take the kids out of school on vacation!
Schools are getting a little bit more concerned about parents taking their kids out to travel and there are some strict rules in place.
I’ve even heard of some parents being arrested for taking their kids out of school. #horrified
I certainly don’t want you to end up in jail
That’s not the best thing for your children so be aware of the rules before you make any decision to take your kids out of school to travel.
2. Understand Your Child’s Learning Level
If your child is struggling at school, it might not be a great idea to take them out for extended periods of time, unless you think that family travel experience together will help them unwind and gain brain clarity and rest.
If they are a fast learner, you may be able to take them out and be confident in knowing they can quickly catch up when you return.
The last thing you want to do is extra stress and pressure for your child.
So, consider taking them out of school to travel carefully, including how long you take them for. An extra day here and there shouldn’t hurt too much.
3 Talk to the Teacher or Principal
Some totally get the value of travel, others just see the pain it can cause the teacher and school (not to mention any funding issues they may end up having from student absences).
Yes. Schools lose funding for absent children!
Have a conversation and explain why you are taking your child out of school, and what benefits are going to be for the child in doing that.
Be sure to outline how you intend to stay on top of the school work they’ll be missing, how you intend to make it educational, and how you will help your child catch up on work once you return.
Perhaps you can have your child create a report to share with the class about the destination and experiences upon return.
Make it educational for the whole class.
They key is to showcase how beneficial it is for the child and family and who you can help make the teacher’s life easier.
4. Make Your Trips Educational
Travel is a learning experience in itself.
But take the opportunity to incorporate educational experiences on your trip like museums, live reenactments, science museums, local culture and history
Let’s say your child is learning about the revolutionary war in school, so seize that opportunity and take some days off to visit the Greater Williamsburg area or Boston so they can experience live interactive museums of that period of time!!
They’ll skip ahead of the class and conquer the unit of work in one day!
Imagine the report they can write and I’m sure their teacher would be impressed.
Imagine how impressed the classroom teacher will be to know that you took care of that entire unit of work in just a couple of days.
5. Take Your Children’s Work
I know this is the last thing you want to do but it will make life easier upon your return to school.
As a previous teacher, I can tell you it’s a nightmare when kids miss a lot of school days.
Teachers have unrealistic curriculum expectations placed upon them. It’s difficult to achieve those even when all the kids are in school.
So it’s difficult for your child’s teacher to help them catch up on the work they missed.
So ask your child’s teacher what they’ll be missing and do your best to cover it. But don’t expect your teacher to run around getting two weeks of work ready for you. No teacher plans that far in advance!!
That’s too much pressure for the child’s teacher
Make sure you are finding out what they are doing in Math and cover that. Get them reading every day and journal writing is always a winner.
6. Add on Days to Term Breaks and Weekend Travel
I know traveling during school break time is not the best idea cost wise, but it may be to balance the whole school thing.
The school breaks will be the best time to tack on a couple of extra weeks in – maybe one before and one after.
From my experience as a teacher, there isn’t a great deal of learning that happens during the weeks as they are warming up or winding down.
Similarly, if there is a long weekend, tack on a couple of extra days at the beginning or end of the long weekend.
A way around that in the US is to have your child in year-round school calendars. For Aussie readers this is how our schools do it at home – 4 terms with breaks in between.
This means they are often off from school when most students in traditional classrooms aren’t. This will be off season travel which means fewer crowds and cheaper costs.
Don’t forget our previous video sharing tips on making travel a little more affordable.
7. Travel While They Are Younger
The nature of curriculum, studies, and tests means the demands of school become more intense the older your children get.
So you may have less opportunities to take them out for long periods of time because they could possibly fall far behind.
Remember we don’t want to stress our children out.
For the younger years they are learning a lot less and taking a lot longer to learn concepts. You could take care of some of those concepts.
- Tips for traveling with a baby
- Tips for traveling with a toddler
- Tips for traveling with preschool aged children
8. Try Homeschooling/ Roadschooling/ Unschooling
This is one of the best ways to balance school with travel because then you take control of the learning and you’re not tied down to traditional school, learning and hours.
While we did juggle school terms for 18 months with our eldest –and we did manage to balance the school with travel with most of the tips I’ve given you.
For most of their school life they have been enrolled at the Makepeace Academy –yes with me as Principal.
That truly is the name of my school by the way. But we are at max capacity!
Now I have endless tips I can offer for homeschooling. Check out the following:
- Finding the perfect homeschooling solution for our travel lifestyle (once again)
- The Ultimate Guide to Roadschooling in the USA (+ Homeschool Resources)
- What the Standardized Tests Reveal About our Homeschooling
- Tips for (distance education) homeschooling on the road
I don’t believe my children have suffered in any way. In fact, it has helped them completely thrive and I have loved the experience.
Travel is a wonderful way for your children to not only learn about the world around them, but to also learn more about themselves.
What they’re capable of, what their strengths are, what their interests are and how they learn and interact with the world.
For me, I don’t believe there is a better education your child can have.
Travel helps them stay connected to their creative side, their imagination, their ability to solve problems and make decisions, all of which are absolutely vital abilities to not only survive but thrive in the world.
So if they have ample opportunities to continue to practice those skills they will excel in school and in life.
I hope you have found some of these tips super helpful for balancing school and travel.
It is tricky, but I believe there are ways to make it work.
Click the playlist below to see more tips in this family travel challenges series:
How do you balance school with travel? Do you have strict school rules around it? Which tip will you implement first?