For parents, the decision to take your child out of school for vacation can be a hard decision.  My family struggles with this more and more as the boys get older.  As we decide the time of year to take our vacation, I want to share things our family considers.

Here are some generalizations that typically hold true and the reasons why so many people do chose to take their children out of school.

When school is in session for most of the country:
– there is a discount on your resort stay.  If you keep your eyes open (or have a travel agent helping you out), you can typically get 10-30% off your resort stay.  Heck, sometimes there is even free-dining promotions.

– the temperature is milder.  This is not always the case. September, October, April, and May still get pretty hot for my Wisconsin blood, but, at least, it is not the humidity-driven months of June – August.

– Crowds are lower.  I hate to say this, but Walt Disney World is crowded year-round nowadays, but the crowds are lower when school is in session.  You can easily see waits for attractions at ⅓ of the wait time as during the peak season.  This means you can see and do more which also increases the value of the money you are spending on the vacation.

Before we get into my family’s specifics I do want to take a step back and acknowledge my family is not normal.  We travel to Disney at least once per year. Not every family has this luxury or wants to vacation in this manner.

If this trip is your one and only trip to Walt Disney World, then my advice is to take the children out of school for all the benefits listed above. I don’t think you will regret it!  You can see and do and have a magical time not melting in the Florida heat or standing in hour long lines.

If Walt Disney World is a destination that you know you will be returning to in the future, then I think it can be a harder decision.  Why?  If you don’t get everything done you want, then you always have in the back of your mind that we can just do that next vacation. We catch our family saying that a lot when we are down there.

Here are things to consider:

  • Does your school allow family vacation as an excused absence? We are fortunate that our school system does.
  • How are the kids doing academically?  We let our teachers know at least 2 weeks in advance and they are more than willing to help us make up any work that the boys will miss.We struggled this past May vacation because our older son is behind in reading.  To our great pleasure, we encouraged him to read the park signs and maps. I think we actually had some reading gains on this vacation because of different approach being taken to the skill.
  • Will your child miss out on some extracurricular activity that may be burdensome?  The example here is that one year we were thinking of a mid-December trip before the Christmas vacation.  The boys would have missed the Christmas play.  Not the end of the world, but still a factor to weigh in the decision process.
  • Can you afford to pay the extra prices to travel during the peak seasons when all kids are out of school?  Not only will you be paying more for hotel stays, but also many of the sit-down meals have premium charges for the peak travel periods.
  • How much school have the children missed already with the school year or will they miss?  Both of my children have unique medical challenges.  Some years there is a ton of school missed with doctor appointments or surgeries.

Again, these are just the things we consider.  Hopefully this will help you with some items to consider when you are planning your next family vacation.

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