I don’t normally take my kids on big trips at all. At the most it’s a weekend adventure somewhere. Watching the travel deals almost daily, it becomes obvious that you pay more per person when travelling during school holidays. All the best deals that pop up seem to be during term time, and usually I wouldn’t even tease myself with those deals. Recently, I saw one I couldn’t resist. I mean, it got in my head and I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
I’m not very impulsive, so the first thing I did was contact my children’s school and ask them if they would be okay with a school term trip. Their reaction was very positive, and as a result I booked the trip. I know if they had shown any resistance to the idea, I would not have pushed it. Though, I can see why many parents don’t stop to ask their schools. I was obsessing over the mere idea of the trip, and my mouse-clicking deal-getting finger was itchy!
When I was 10 my parents took us to Australia for a road trip that started a week before the school holidays. The school just asked that we do a travel journal each. So when I took my own kids away, I got them visual diaries so that they would still get some reading and writing and learning in during the holiday. This worked well for my eldest who wrote a novel every day about her adventures. My youngest made three entries; one about lemonade, one about ice cream and one about watching a movie on the big screen. So it wasn’t a great success for her.
Are you allowed to take your kids out of school?
This experience got me thinking, what are the rules about days off during term time? According to the Ministry of Education, once your child starts at school they need to attend every day until they are 16. This is laid out in the Education Act 1989. Children are able to take time off due to sickness or bereavement, much like us working adults. However, holidays don’t fall into the “good reason” category. A child’s “annual leave” is set out in the 12 weeks of holidays they already have. Birthdays are also not a good enough reason for a child to be absent from school.
Whilst it is not regularly enforced, not attending school is an offence and convicted parents can be fined $30 for every day the child is absent (to a maximum $300). A parent can be fined $3,000 for a subsequent conviction.
In the UK, parents who take their children out of school for holidays without school permission can be fined approximately $120 NZD by the local council, which doubles if you don’t pay by the due date. At least you can apply for permission for your child to take leave. In Australia, the rules vary state-by-state. It is widely discouraged, with some requiring parents to apply for permission, while Tasmania does not allow it at all. In Germany this year, police carried out checks at the airport for children out of school during term time!
Here, when a child is at primary school, they need to go to school daily to get into a good habit. They are building relationships and doing classwork that could be disrupted if they have too much time out of school. Once they get to secondary school, the work is harder and there are more important assessments as well. My eldest will be moving out of primary after this year so I know she is going to need every day at school to keep the focus.
While I know this was a once off for me, I can see both sides of the coin here. I don’t want my kids to fall behind, whether it’s on an important project, or just learning the end of year show’s dance moves. However, term three is a funny ol’ term and often is one of the worst for tired teachers and kids. This time around, because my kids had that little mid-term break away, they were nowhere near as tired and teary by the end of term.
Have you ever taken your kids out of school for a trip? What was the school’s response?
This article was written by Kym Moore. Kym is a working mum of two, and occasional blogger. Fancies herself a writer, when she isn’t editing her kids’ vlogs or running their social media at Baby Likes Cake. Follow them on Facebook and YouTube.
Read more on Kidspot:
- A third of kids are regularly absent from school
- Building the parent and teacher relationship
- What do you want your children to learn?