Did you hear about the British couple who were fined $1800 for taking their kids out of school for a week for a family vacation?
Apparently, recent legislation has made it possible for parents in Britain to be charged and prosecuted for failing to ensure their children attend school regularly – and this applies to missing school for family travel. Up until this academic year, head teachers could use their discretion to decide whether or not children should have up to ten days off to take a family holiday during the school year. Under the new law, head teachers are duty bound to report parents who break the rules, except in “exceptional circumstances”.
I completely agree that education is important, but I firmly believe that kids can learn so many important life lessons from travelling to other places. Who’s to say that learning can only happen in the class room? (Certainly not Globetrotting Mama Heather Greenwood Davis!)
In 2010, our family had the amazing opportunity to travel to Vancouver and experience some of the Winter Olympics first hand. The company my husband works for was one of the Official Sponsors of the 2010 Winter Olympics, and he was part of the team that would be there for the duration of the games, hosting some of their clients at various Olympic events. At some point, the possibility of the rest of our family going to Vancouver for a few days became a real option.
Obviously, this would require our kids missing some school.
Our son has autism, and some of his major triggers for anxiety and behaviour at that time were waiting, crowds and unfamiliar people and places. A flight across the country and a trip to the Olympics did not seem like something that he would like – at all. For him, staying in his regular routine and continuing to go to school was the best option. Luckily, my mom was able to stay with him so I could travel with our daughter to Vancouver for five days. (Thank you mom!)
Our trip to the Vancouver Olympics ended up being an experience of a lifetime for my daughter and I, and I don’t think either of us will forget the experience anytime soon.
During our five days in Vancouver, we were able to attend a few Olympic events, including the Women’s Short Program figure skating finals, downhill ski slalom racing at Whistler, and the Women’s Hockey finals in which the Canadian women’s team won the gold medal.
Experiencing the national pride of Canadians at the events and in the streets of Vancouver was so amazing – it actually brought tears to my eyes a number of times.
We got to do a bit of sightseeing during our trip, such as visiting the Vancouver Aquarium and Stanley Park, riding the Peak to Peak Gondola at Whistler, exploring Granville Island and walking the streets of downtown Vancouver among thousands of people from around the world. Everywhere we went there was a sea of red, as Canadians proudly displayed their national pride.
It was truly amazing.
During our trip, my daughter learned more about this great country of ours, and got to witness the results of the Olympic athletes’ determination, drive and passion.
We held our breath as we watched Joannie Rochette’s emotional and bronze-winning performance as she skated after losing her mom just days earlier. It was a demonstration of unimaginable inner strength and courage.
We cheered on the Canadian women’s hockey team as they played for and won the gold medal. These women showed my daughter the power of team work and dedication.
We met an Olympic athlete that had just won a gold medal a few hours earlier. He helped my daughter understand the value of hard work and following your dreams.
The list of lessons from our amazing experience at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games goes on and on.
Could my daughter have learned these things in school during those same few days she was away? I guess it’s possible, but I don’t think it’s very likely. Do you?
Would I take her out of school again to travel? In a heartbeat.
In the meantime we’re looking forward to cheering on the Canadian athletes at the Sochi Winter Olympics. GO CANADA GO!
About Kathy Sima
Kathy is a blogger and freelance writer and mom of two teens who gave up her career as a financial advisor when her son was diagnosed with autism at age 3. When it comes to parenting, Kathy truly believes there is strength in numbers and knows that sharing stories and strategies with other parents has helped keep her sane (so far!)