I’ve made it no secret that I pull my kids out of school every year for a family trip. I have absolutely no problem with my kids missing school for up to a week for a trip. Vacations during the off season are less expensive, and destinations are less crowded.
Pulling my kids out of elementary school for vacations was a no-brainer for our family. I know that some people disagree with doing this, but I really feel like the benefits of our trips outweighed missing school. We would travel much less if we couldn’t travel during the school year.
A few months ago I wrote about some changes happening with my family and why we won’t be able to travel as much during the school year. The main change is that my oldest son started middle school this fall.
Last month, the school district was closed on a Monday and Friday, giving us a four-day weekend. We added three days onto that weekend for our trip to Puerto Vallarta, so our kids only had to miss three days of school for a six-night trip.
Now that we’re back and the dust has settled, I’ve had time to evaluate the pros and cons of missing middle school.
Why Missing Middle School Isn’t So Bad
- Everything is online. With my son’s school, all of his classes have online syllabuses. We could see what my son was missing for each class by day, including homework assignments and quizzes. Even his textbooks and class resource material are online. We can see his grades online and which assignments are missing.
- Teachers have scheduled tutorial times. Each of my son’s teachers have scheduled tutorial or office times before or after school on certain days. This made it easy for my son to meet with each teacher for guidance on makeup work.
- Grades don’t affect college applications. Yes, I said it. Grades in middle school don’t affect your high school class rankings or show up on your high school transcripts. However, attaining good grades in middle school is important for gaining knowledge and good study habits.
Why Missing School Middle School is Challenging
- Some things you can’t make up. For example, if your child misses a band concert, their grade goes down significantly. Same thing with a choir show or theater performance.
- There are more teachers/classes to coordinate. My son has eight teachers now. Last year in 5th grade, he only had two teachers. Meeting with each teacher takes more time and couldn’t be accomplished in one day.
- Classwork and homework are more complex and take more time. Obviously, the difficulty level rises each year, so it takes more effort and time to make up work.
How did my son feel about missing middle school?
I spoke to my son about missing school because I wanted his honest feedback. I wouldn’t want to pull him out of school if it stresses him out too much and he couldn’t enjoy our trips.
He loved the break from the rat race! The transition from elementary school to middle school was hard. He has way less free time and less time to unwind and be a kid. Going on our trip to Puerto Vallarta was a much needed break for him! And yes, he was on his phone a lot looking at Instagram, but he was relaxed and happy.
Making up the work was harder than he thought, however. In elementary school, his teachers spoon fed him his makeup work. That wasn’t the case in middle school. He looked at the online syllabuses, but as we logged into his online grades we could see that he was still missing some assignments. He was a little stressed going to school early and staying after school to meet with teachers about his makeup work in the two weeks following our trip.
I asked him if the stress was worth it—and he said it definitely was! However, he said he wouldn’t want to miss more than three days in a row. Making up more days of work would be too overwhelming.
What’s the plan going forward?
While my son is in middle school, we will take a few trips where he will miss up to three days of school at a time. His grades were not affected by missing school on this last trip. I’m already planning on him missing a few days during his 7th grade year for an extended trip to Hawaii that we will tack on to the scheduled Spring Break week.
If we had the right opportunity, I’d be comfortable pulling him out for a few days next semester, too. While missing five days in a row would be hard, missing three days in one semester and two days in another semester would be much easier to handle.
We will look at the band/theater calendar before planning any trips to make sure he won’t miss any performances. Usually, the performance schedule is similar year after year, so we can make a good guess at the dates.
High school may be a totally different story, but we will cross that bridge when we get there.
Parents, are you for or against pulling kids out of school for a family vacation? Parents of middle schoolers, how do you feel about missing middle school?
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.