School and Taking Kids Out for Vacation

Updated on July 16, 2012
H.D. asks from Allen, TX
32 answers

Hi all,

I am planning for the first time to take my kids on vacation during the school year this fall. I've decided to do this because A: my autistic son doesn't do well with crowds and waiting in lines & B: It's cheaper!!!!!!!! (we are going to WDW)

So, if you have ever done this, how did you tell the school and the teachers? Or, did you just call your kids in sick for a week? I don't want to lie to my school officials/teachers, but I also don't want me or my kids to get some sort of punishment for taking a family vacation during the school year. We plan on being gone for 1 week and my kids that would be affected by this are 9 & 6.


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answers from Boca Raton on

Yikes, I see you're in Texas. You might want to read some of TracyXO's posts (pertaining to a truancy fiasco) before you decide how to proceed.

I would also review the school handbook.

I don't put up with schools and their increasingly ridiculous, arbitrary (based on getting federal funding $$$) rules, which is one reason (among many) why we homeschool. That being said, if you're in their system you generally have to play by their rules.

Good luck - I think trips are great learning experiences for kids. And I agree that it's very difficult for ASD kids to tolerate lines, and heat too. Also, you might contact WDW and see if you can get a special pass or accommodation.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I asked the principal before I registered my son for school. He can miss 10 days a year (not health related) before they will make a fuss about it. They don't want him to miss two consecutive weeks and it would be an issue if it was one of (the completely ridiculous) testing weeks. Personally, vacation would be a better use of his time than testing, but I guess I can live with that. I will be pulling him out for 3-4 days two weeks after school starts so we can go to the beach for DH's birthday (family tradition). I plan on telling the truth.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Kansas City on

Ditto, ditto, ditto Angela S. Texas has some major attendance rules. Before you book ANYTHING, check out your district's policy on this. Do a search of this sight and read up on Tracyxo.

Give your kid's teachers as much notice as possible. Many parents don't realize how much work it is for a teacher to put together homework for a week long absence and how much work it is to catch your child up with the rest of the class when they have been gone for a week.

If your son with autism is on an IEP, check the IEP annual due date. You don't want to schedule anything close to his review meeting.

Communicate with your school first!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

First, I would not lie to the school because at some point or another, it will come out.

As a regular substitute teacher, I know teachers hate it when children are out for any reason, especially on planned vacations. The children do miss work, more one on one time is spent to catch them up to level, plus the school does lose funding which is also based on attendence.

TX truancy is tough. When my daughter was in 10th grade she got very sick and missed over 9 days of school. Because so many people justify vacations, etc and just wrote a note to get the absence excused.... attendence clerks at the school don't "buy" the true excuses. I had to show them the Dr. bills, Dr. notes, RX that was taken plus the work she made up on her own to keep us clear of truancy court AND keep all the credits she needed for graduation in 2013.

Your 9 yr old is probably 3rd grade, right? This is the first year of report cards, a lot of new things are intrroduced and it goes fast.

I personally would not take a child out for vacation but that is just me... I feel school should be a priority.

You have to do what is right for your family, just don't lie about it to the school.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Dover on

I am personally against pulling kids out for more than a day. You never know when they will end up sick and have to miss time (my daughter just missed 4 days straight of camp due to being sick...just camp but could have been school) and you set a precedence that doing something fun is more important than education...just my opinion.

If you are going to do this (I do understand your reasoning), I strongly advise you to officially request approval from the school and maybe try the educational spin that others have suggested. If they don't approve and you still go, you should definitely make sure you talk to their teachers ahead of time to get any/all missed work. If it isn't an approved absence, the would would be due when they return without extra time. Not telling the school is dishonest and teaches your kids that it is ok to be dishonest when it suits them. Besides, the kids will be so excited that they could let it slip before or after the trip anyway.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Is this a private or public school? From what we've been seeing in the news, and even on this site, lately, if it is a Texas public school I wouldn't do ANYTHING without the school's permission. Don't mess with Texas! There can be terrible consequences for not following the Texas public schools' rules.

And certainly, never ask your kids to lie to their teachers. They WILL be caught, because what kid isn't going to tell their classmates that they went to Disney? Teachers know much more about kids' home lives than we think they do.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Bloomington on

More and more people are doing this. As a previous teacher, I say go for it (we plan to do the same thing next fall).

But, you need to read the handbook and check with the school about it. I don't know that I would ask for permission as I would simply state what I planned to do and ask how can I help my kiddo stay on track.

Most teachers are willing to put together a packet of sorts and feel that a family vacation and traveling holds value (I do).

One thing more to consider is when the school does their state testing. You don't want them to miss or have to postpone testing. Schools will not go for that at all.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

When I was a kid, we did this a few times. My parents told the teachers ahead of time so that they could send our work home to be done over the vacation. We did go to private school though.

I plan on doing the same thing in a few years. I have one kid with autism and one typical kid with some sensory issues.

Oh, and I did hear that you might be able to get a pass to go to the beginning of the line since you have a child with autism.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

In our district the school loses precious funding every time a child is absent.
What you can do is tell the teacher ahead of time that you are going on a trip for X number of days and s/he will put together a packet of independent study materials for your child. That way the school still receives it's funding and your kids don't miss out on whatever material was covered while they were gone. Win win :)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I have done this and I just always call and let the school know that we have a 'Family Obligation out of town' and will be gone from X to Z.

~I didn't even read your other responses but I am assuming some people said you shouldn't do it? I say, as long as your kids do good in school, you are fine!

Have Fun and enjoy your vacation!!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

My kids were exactly the same ages when we did this (1st and 4th grade). Once they're in middle & high school you can't do it since they'll miss too much work - but this is a perfect age. The younger teachers do not like the idea (I've heard it from both of my nieces who are teachers) as they think you're teaching your kids that Disney is more important than education. But here's my opinion - family time is vital. You may only have the resources to go to WDW once in your family's lifetime so you need to grab the opportunity. My feeling is if we're spending $5K to have this once-in-a-lifetime splurge we are not going at peak time and wait on hour long lines.
I told the teachers ahead of time (2 weeks) that we were heading out of state for a family reunion of sorts that was based on the vacation schedules of most of the family members attending. They both supplied us with the weeks' class/home work. Of the 5 days of school missed, they each got 2 days of work done on the plane on the way down, did 2 days while we were there and did the last day on the plane on the way back.
We really thought we'd be able to get back there the next year - but it's now been 7 years and we haven't been able to based on extended family situations & money. And now the kids are in HS and Middle school and there's just no way they can miss that much school. Bummer!
I say do it now - you don't know when you'll have the chance again. BTW, now that my neices both have kids, and are living on budgets they have a better understanding of why families pull their kids out of school to go on vacation. They're not completely thrilled about it - as their kids are still babies & toddlers - but their opinions about the parents of their students has changed dramatically since they became parents themselves. Funny how that happens! (PS - in our experience both of my kids' teachers didn't even bat an eye when I told them - they both were seasoned teachers with families of their own and seem to understand although they couldn't come out and say so.)
Have fun mama - this time of your family's life is such a sweet time! take plenty of pictures, videos & make memories!!!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

If it was me I'd try to schedule it during a week in the school year where they were either already out or only had a few days (thanksgiving, winter break, spring break, etc). I've always been of the consideration that school comes first.

I wouldn't lie to the school and call the kids in sick. I would talk to them, find out what the policy is on things like vacations and go from there.

There are lots of vacation days built into the school year and WDW is open year round. I'd REALLY try to aim for winter break for the trip. It'll still be nice weather, there still won't be any lines and the kids won't miss school.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Check with the school about policies. You could get messed up with truancy laws and end up in court.

There are only a certain number of absences allowed and if your kids miss other days later on in the year, you could end up in a problem.

When I was in school, my mom took us out a couple times in elementary school to visit her family out of state. The teachers LOVED it and thought it was a wonderful, educational experience - they knew in advance and provided homework packages for us.

If you can do it without ending up in truancy court, I say, Go for it!

Edit to add: If your oldest is in 3rd grade, do not take him/her out anywhere NEAR STAAR testing in the spring - after testing is over, or sometime in the fall would probably be fine.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Ditto those who say you need to check with the school, check on policy, and check on testing dates. Just be honest; schools are used to these kinds of trips. And schools do ask for doctors' notes after children miss more than a certain number of days; in some areas you could not claim a week "out sick" without producing a doctor's note.

Also, teachers are usually glad to prepare work packets for kids who are out. At their ages it won't be much work, but the point of having them do it is a huge point: It's a privilege -- not a right -- to be taken out of school to have fun.

Also, consider this: If you lie to the teacher and school and say they're sick for a week, what does that teach your kids? They will go back to school and someone will say, "How are you feeling now?" out of concern for them. Your kids will then be in the position of having to lie to their own teachers and friends in order to keep the vacation secret. And the next time they lie about something else, it will be hard for you to tell them, "Don't lie," won't it?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

My kids were in a small country school. The school felt it was ok to miss the first two days of deer season, but any other reason was unacceptable.

So when we went to WDW we went during the week when the kids were gone deer hunting. My kids all developed a severe rash and the blue flu. We had a wonderful time. When we got back they were really upset because our kids were out for an entire week. They angrily accepted the blue flu, but warned us no to do it again.

My kids were fine academically, but the school was wanting the money the state paid for daily attendance.

Good luck to you and yours.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I would call your kids in through the office like normal, just telling them what days they will miss. I would then communicate directly with the teacher and tell him/her your plans. I'd do it in advance enough so your child can get any homework or school work done BEFORE you leave so they are ready to pick up right when they get back.

If your kids are good students, you shouldn't have a problem.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Just tell the teacher about 1 month in advance that Joey will not be in school the week of "Sept 20" can we get his homework in advance of this? Then follow up with reminder email about two weeks in advance and then week of send in a note with a request.

No need to lie - just tell the teacher when your kid will be out - you do not even need to give a reason why...just he/she will be out.

Have fun - fyi this year we are also taking our second grader out of school first 8 school days in December to go to WDW.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I teach in a Texas school, and while most teachers don't have any issue with parents doing this, truancy laws are tough. I have students/parents missing school to go to court because of truancy all the time, and this costs them tons of money and time. Be sure you know what is allowed and what isn't, and follow the rules exactly. Also, don't lie. It will be discovered.

I hope this helps.



answers from Colorado Springs on

You want to check with the school. There may be different rules, depending on the state regulations and the school regulations.

At the school my children attended, the Powers That Be (or Were) didn't mind parents taking children out, as long as the kids were up on their schoolwork already and could make up the work they missed. But... any child who missed too many days of school attendance for *any* reason was likely not to be promoted, because of a state law saying that a child must be in the classroom for a certain number of days per year.

So go to the school heads, be honest about what you want to do and why, and see what happens.


answers from Lansing on

I took mine out from 1st grade and preschool this past May for a week. My oldest daughter had only missed 1 day prior and my youngest had perfect attendance. I did email both of their teachers prior to vacation to let them know, also so that they could give homework to them if need be prior to leaving.

My daughters preschool teacher did not give her any homework nor had her makeup anything as it was close to the end of the year.

My oldest daughter who was in 1st grade, her teacher sent her home with a very small amount of homework which we returned upon returning. Other than that she did not have to make up anything in the spelling test she missed.

It actually was not that big of a deal. However, I did tell these teachers this was a once in a lifetime vacation as I don't plan on taking them out every year. Also, my kids had not missed much school and I'm an involved parent so I think that makes a difference too. :)



answers from Dallas on

I work in a middle school and kids were always out for vacations. Usually the parents would let the school know ahead of time and then get any work that was necessary. Not sure at their ages that any work will be necessary. The school and teachers never seemed to have a problem with this happening. I never had a student out like this, but in classes that I co -taught in, it happened often.

P.S. I work in a middle school in Texas (public) in the DFW metroplex.



answers from San Francisco on

I would let the school know - they can't punish you or your kids.


answers from Washington DC on

I did this in May and will be doing it again in January. I sent notes to each of the teachers and obtained homework assignments for them. My youngest was in Pre-k and even he had a packet of homework.

I let them know it was a family trip and we did educational things because my kids like it. We talked science things at the beach, history at the Wright Brothers Museum, math at mini-golf, and reading every where we went.

They turned in their work when we returned and nothing was said. All of the teachers thought it was great for the kids to get the experience..



answers from Dallas on

Check the school handbook to see how many personal days (if any) are allowed. My niece and nephew in Indiana are allowed 4 days (either per year or per semester, I don't remember). So, being gone a week would be a problem for them, and you could be turned in for truancy. Most schools highly discourage vacations during the school year, but sometimes it cannot be avoided (family weddings, etc).



answers from Columbus on

Be honest and up front with the schools!! If you're not - trust me when I say...They have ways of finding things out - the consequences may be worse!!

Families at our schools do it all the time. There's usually a form you need to fill out; so I would definitely check with the principal.

Good luck and have fun!!!



answers from Oklahoma City on

You are the parent and can decide if you want to take some time off. I would make sure the low times/off season dates and see if you can make the vacation on the same week as fall break or some other week that has some days out of it.

I often plan the kids dental appointments on the week of fall break so we can go spend a few days at a hotel and enjoy pools and other activities.



answers from Washington DC on

I would tell the teachers in advance if the children are going to be out for a week. It may not be "excused", but you should be able to get their work to do ahead of time or before they return so they don't miss a key lesson. At their ages, missing a week is less of a problem than in HS where they can get behind quickly.



answers from Kansas City on

We've done this and plan to do it again this fall. I will notify the office just before we leave that the kids (13 and 10) will be gone. I will contact the teachers ahead of time to see if we can be working on school work to stay current.

Have Fun!!



answers from Lakeland on

I would just send a letter or ask for a form when school starts. Public schools usually have a form to fill out a few weeks prior to going.

I would also contact WDW about a pass for your son. They used to give fast passes with a doctor’s note for autistic children. My sister had always gotten them for her son when they went to WDW and Universal.

I would put that you will be visiting Kennedy Space Center or somewhere near by that can be considered a learning experience. We never had any problems taking my SD out of school the week before and the week of Thanksgiving.


answers from Norfolk on

Our school system has cracked down on this.
Around here, people were waltzing in and out of class so much it was very disruptive to get anything done in the classroom.

Calling in sick for more than 3 days in a row requires a note from a doctor in order for the absence to be excused.

Once a certain number of unexcused absences add up (a 2 week vacation would do it), you'd have a meeting with a truancy officer and then have to meet with school principal and personnel to make a plan to catch up on work and make sure it doesn't happen again.
Ignoring the problem result in court dates and fines - really this is for people who are so not connecting with their kids education anyway, they've got bigger problems to address, but this is one way to hopefully get them to wake up.

However, with advance notice given, and permission granted by the principal (which will make it an excused absence) , vacations during the school year can still be taken - so there is an out.



answers from Washington DC on

Our school requires that you send a note and get it approved by the principal and to give the teachers advanced notice so that they can put homework packets together.

I agree with putting and educational stop on the map.

I almost did this last year. There was a week in Nov. when there was no school on Mon. for end of term. Tues. for election/conferences and Friday for Veteran's day.

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