Is it O.K. to Miss School for a Family Vacation?

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Recently there was a viral letter floating around the internet regarding a family who took their kids out of school for three days to go to the Boston Marathon. First of all, what is the big deal? It was THREE days. A minimal amount of time for a once in a life time experience, don’t you think? Many runners train for years to qualify for this event and the support of their family is a huge part of this training. How exhilarating it would be to watch your father cross that finish line. I’m not even a runner and I would jump at the chance to just go watch the Boston Marathon (and I would take my family too).

We take our kids out of school a couple of times a year for a few days to go on vacation. Why? We can’t always work around school holidays. So… should we never go on vacation? We usually can’t afford to go anywhere during most of the “standard” holiday breaks. We afford our vacations because we purposely travel during off season or book flights during non-peak times.

We value education. It is very important in our family. We are tough about grades, homework, and balancing educational learning with play time. We also value family time, life experiences, and making memories. I’m proud that our youngest son could snorkel and point out various fish species at four years old. YES – we do crazy things like waking them up in the middle of the night (on a school night) to see a Blood Moon. They take these experiences back to school with them, and get super excited when the topic is something they have actually experienced. On a recent trip to the USVI, we visited historic sites and learned about the history of the Virgin Islands. Our oldest son donated a Virgin Islands flag to his class and told his classmates about the Islands and their history. His teacher brought out the world map and they looked up each place we had visited. Sharing something he could “teach” his peers was very exciting for him.

We plan ahead with the school and make sure we take any schoolwork with us. Our kids know that just because they are missing school, they are not excused from their schoolwork. Before we enjoy any of the day’s activities – the school work must be completed.

Missing School for Vacation

Vacation Schoolwork

Our kids are young and we understand it will become harder to miss school as the work becomes more intense. We will have to be more “choosy” regarding the times and reasons we leave for a vacation. However, being well traveled is education in itself. Knowing how to maneuver in an airport, not being afraid of exploring a new area, knowing how to act around different cultures and being truly excited about a region’s local history and historic sites are all things they will take into adulthood. This will help shape their adult lives and possibly add to future job opportunities. Would our kids even remember anything from specific days missed from school? Probably not. But they will forever remember seeing a family of squid swimming by, the barracuda they caught, and seeing one of the only known full skeleton fossils of a T-Rex.


Houston Museum of Natural Science T-Rex Fossil

T-Rex Fossil

Vacation to Houston Natural Science Musuem

Learning about Dinosaurs











Will we continue to take our kids out of school for important life experiences? Yes. A loved ones milestone birthday; gone – grandpa is only 90 once. A humanitarian or ecological mission trip; sign us up! Sea Turtle nesting season on a remote island; would go in a heartbeat.  It is unfortunate that sea turtles don’t nest during the designated Christmas holiday. But life doesn’t just happen during the Christmas holiday. Your family may not get a second chance for certain life experiences – so you must take them the first time. And don’t you dare feel a bit guilty about it!


What do you think? Is missing school for a family vacation O.K.?  Am I right?  Am I wrong?  Share your thoughts in the comments below!


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19 thoughts on “Is it O.K. to Miss School for a Family Vacation?

  1. Kim Hilbert

    I don’t know why this is an issue if the family knows where the child is (meaning the kid isn’t truant w/out their permission) and the student’s grades are good.

  2. Agy

    In our country, if you want to skip school (even if it is one day!) you need a letter from your parents, and then the school will send back an indemnity form (no kidding) stating that as parents you will not hold the school responsible for bad grades / performance! Some kids do get off school a day or two earlier to beat the traffic to get back to their home country. I think it can be worked out, the school always gives the kids the school and homework for them to finish. Not an issue, where I am!

  3. heidi

    I think that as long as you aren’t taking your children out of school every month for a vacation it’s fine to take them out for a vacation. Make it educational, and you are doing the right thing by making them stay current on their homework.

  4. Kathleen

    My children are well out of school. For various reasons we had to take them out of school. Sometimes for overseas travel, I think they ended with a greater education than if they stayed in the class room. They learned much about the way other cultures lived and all sorts of interesting things.

    If they can keep up with their traditional studies then go for it.
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  5. Amanda

    There is no reason a parent shouldn’t be allowed to go on vacation for a few days during a school year. Like you mentioned, with good planning a child should be able to make up or do ahead of time any missed work.

  6. Ronda Ogilvie

    The schools are worried they will lose their funding and it’s sad! I believe a child is going to learn way more traveling then they will in a classroom. Work and school can be made up, experiences and family time slip by so quickly. Life is short.

  7. Leslie

    I will take my kids out of school for vacation or just because I think we need a day off. They are my kids, and it’s my decision!

  8. Elaine Allen

    I totally agree. Parents should be able to vacation with their children without anyone’s permission in my opinion. I think parents should be in control, not the schools.

  9. Ali

    As a teacher, I love this post! I am so appreciative of parents like you 🙂 you are aware that education is important, but give your kids incredible life experiences! I am all for taking kids out of school for family vacations.

  10. Amy @Planning Playtime

    Responsibly taking your children out of school for a family vacation should not be a problem. A healthy family life is so critical to a child’s mental, social, and physical well being, and if that means you miss a few days of math, so be it. Spend a little extra time on it when you get home.

  11. Cristi

    Personally, I can’t even wrap my head around this being an issue, especially if attendance are both generally good. Ultimately, I think it should be the parents’ decision.

  12. annabelt

    We took ours out of school a couple of times one year to go to family events, and we did go over the number of days the school would officially allow. I didn’t think the school would say ‘No you can’t go to your grandparents’ golden wedding / 70th birthday / whatever’, but I was a bit worried there would be fines or some other consequences. But we sent in the forms and letters and took a lot of homework with us and they were ok about it.

  13. Lynndee

    I totally agree. Our son missed school a couple of days because of an important family event. And I don’t think a few days of missing school would affect his grades anyway.

  14. Sara

    Personally, I believe life experiences and time with family trumps what will be missed skipping a few days of school. If you’re pulling a kid out for weeks on end it’d be totally different, but for a family vacation… why not??

  15. Kim @ This Ole Mom

    I don’t see anything wrong with taking your kids out of school for a few days. I think it should be a parent’s decision and not the schools. I use to take my older children out of school for family events and their teachers would give me work for them to do if they had time.