There’s a lot of debate at the moment about whether it’s right or wrong to take kids out of school to go on an overseas holiday.
Aside from the practical arguments: not everyone can get annual leave during the school holidays, and not everyone can afford school holiday travel prices. And the schools perspective that their curriculum is carefully planned and balanced to achieve the required learning outcomes based on more or less 100% attendance.
Aside from all this, my personal view is yes, absolutely, 100%, of course we should.
Last year we took a holiday to the other side of the world, which meant taking the kids out of school for a few weeks. I had no issue with doing this. Nor did the school. They, like us, saw this trip-of-a-lifetime as a way to put what had been learned at school into practice.
For example: my kids know what a map of the world looks like. They can name countries and oceans, mountain ranges and more. But I’ll never forget the look on their faces as I pointed these things out to them in real life (look guys – out to the right of the plane you can actually see the Himalayas). That moment alone was worth the 10 years we had been saving for this trip. And while we’d told them we were flying to the other side of the world, they didn’t really understand what that meant until – after three days of travelling – we actually got there.
They learned what it means to be a country – through the many hours we had available to discuss the finer points of this while waiting in line to get in or out of a country, to have our passports stamped or our baggage checked.
They learned how to convert currencies, read maps and communicate with people who don’t speak the same language. They learned that a smile can get you everywhere, that patience is a virtue and that life isn’t easy. They learned that not every day needs to be the same.
They learned things about themselves and each other.
They learned what family really means. About why there was a roomful of complete strangers that looked like Grandma and Grandad, sounded like Grandma and Grandad but weren’t Grandma and Grandad. About why saying farewell to those people at the end of the trip made mummy cry.
Whether it’s six weeks in Europe, two weeks at Disneyland or a week on the ski slopes makes no difference. Every family holiday – every opportunity to experience something new – is an opportunity to learn.