OK, we know this is a controversial topic. There are some parents who wouldn't dream of having their kids miss school for anything in the world, including the Happiest Place on Earth. And we respect that. For others, a trip to the Walt Disney World Resort is a magical experience ... and maybe, just maybe ... the idea of visiting when crowds are lower is worth taking the kids out of school.
While it's great to visit Disney World any time you can, we think fall and winter are particularly great times to visit Walt Disney World because there are some amazing special events, and experiencing the parks all dressed up for the holidays is truly magical.
Parents who plan a vacation during the school year often save more money on airfare and hotels because they are traveling during off-peak times, and of course, they have much more flexibility in choosing when to go, so they can pick a less-crowded time to visit the theme parks or go for a specific special event, such as Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party.
We're not here to judge, but we do want to offer some food for thought as you consider taking the kids out of school. And, if you have taken the kids out of school for a Disney World vacation, please share with us your thoughts about it in comments below.
Now, Leap and I have taken Tad out of school for occasional trips (Lily is so little that it's less of a disruption to her schedule), but I must confess, even he and I are a little divided on this topic. Leap is more concerned with grades and any disruption to Tad's learning process, and even though I am usually the stern task-master at home, I feel like the exposure Tad has to other cultures and new experiences at the parks (especially Epcot, right?) means that he is not forgoing all learning just because he is going on vacation.
Here are a few questions to get you thinking about whether a Disney World vacation during the school year is a good idea.
Does your school allow it?
Obviously, this is the most important question. Find out what your school or school district's policy is on absences -- whether excused or unexcused -- before you even think about planning that trip to Magic Kingdom.
What grade is your child in?
Elementary-age children generally have less homework and less testing than older children, and it is often less disruptive for them to take off than it is for older children, who carry heavier course loads, and have more teachers, assignments and tests to square away. I would also argue that it might be more worth it if you have younger children simply because they really believe in the magical place called Disney World. For them, Cinderella, Snow White and Mickey Mouse are as real as you and me.
How well is your child performing in school?
If you're child is struggling with grades, it is probably not the time to take him or her out of school. The good news is that Disney World isn't going anywhere :)
How well does your child do with change in routine?
A trip to Disney World during the school year will be disruptive no matter how much planning you do. While you can minimize impact by planning ahead, scheduling for shorter trips and over weekends, if you have a child who really needs an established routine to do well, then it's probably best not to schedule during the school year.
Does your child want to miss school?
Sometimes there are special events going on at school or extracurricular activities that children don't want to miss even for a Disney World vacation. Be sensitive to any concerns your child has about missing school, because, trust me, if he or she would rather stay home than go to Disney World, it's a BIG DEAL.
Is your child open to having more work to make up?
Your child isn't just missing homework. They are missing class time and all of the lessons that go along with it. Expect your child's teacher to give extra assignments to cover work that was missed in class as well as homework. Are YOU up for more work? Because you will likely be the one teaching these assignments.
For some parents and kids, a trip to Disney World will offer relatively minimal impact on the school year, but the memories will last a lifetime. For those of you who have decided to take a Disney World vacation during the school year, we'll be bringing you some tips to help make it a smooth and enjoyable process.
Would you take your child out of school for a Disney World vacation? Share any points you think parents should consider.
Until next time ... hoppy planning!