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Good Idea? Taking Kids Out of School to Travel

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It’s one of the great debates for parents: whether to take kids out of school for a vacation, but it’s something almost all parents think about at some point.  

On the plus side, taking kids out of school means leaving early for a holiday, which translates to the potential for less traffic or cheaper airfares.  But on the down side, your kids could be missing important lessons, or worse, tests.

Some teachers we spoke to, on the condition of anonymity, say during the holiday season, it is particularly tough.  Final exams in some schools have ended, and teachers give "busy work" to keep the kids occupied in the final count down to the break. 

But amid the ever-growing pressure on students to perform on standardized testing – it’s a decision parents must make with careful consideration. 

Family travel expert Eileen Ogintz of TakingtheKids.com says especially in this economy – parents may want to consider pulling their kids out for a trip – but only for just for a day or two.

Here are the some of the factors that should go into your decision.

Making Travel Possible 

It is usually very expensive to book a flight around spring break or President’s weekend. Ogintz says pulling the kids out of school for one or two days – might give you the ability to book a vacation that otherwise you couldn’t have afforded - if you had traveled on peak days.

Younger vs. Older 

Ogintz says take advantage when the kids are young. It’s easier for first and second graders to miss a day of school than a high school student. Take into consideration what would be missed if your child misses school.  Key tests could make it a deal breaker, so check the school calendar first.

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Learning Outside the Classroom 

Weigh the advantages of what the kids can learn from the vacation. Obviously, a trip to Washington, DC or Boston could be filled with history lessons - but Ogintz says don’t dismiss beach or other vacations are non-educational. She says if parents do their homework, just about any destination could provide a unique opportunity – such as learning about the different types of fish in the Caribbean or practicing Spanish with locals in Mexico.

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Family First 

Time with just family is limited these days as events, practices and activities fill the schedules of kids of all ages. Add in the distraction of friends, cell phones and text messages, and there’s not much time left for the family. Ogintz says taking your kids on vacation is a good break from the everyday stresses as well as distractions of life, and is critical to building long-lasting relationships.

YOU DECIDE: Is it OK to take your kids out of school for a holiday vacation?