Following on from my post 5 reasons why your kids should skip school to travel .. here are some tips so that the process of taking your kids out of school goes smoothly:
In recent years there has been some changes in NSW for taking your kids out of school. There is a form to fill out when you want to take them out for a couple of weeks and then it has to be approved by the principal (so be nice to them!) Talk to your school and check what you have to do in your particular city/country and follow protocol and that way you don’t get off on the wrong foot from the start. If your kids are in high school and you can avoid it, don’t travel during exams/major assessment tasks, or talk to the school about how you can get around this.
Be present in the school.
I’m not saying be on the P and C or run the canteen, but just be a presence in the school. Don’t drop your kids of at the front gate and run! (even if you want to!) Helping out in the classroom once a week for a couple of hours is an easy way to make yourself known and you get an insight into how your kids are going and what they are learning.
Get to know your kids teacher /principal
Have regular chats to your kids teachers and the principal of the school, get to know them and visa versa. This forms a bond with them. My youngest kids go to a small school and the principal and the teachers are out and about during pick up times so this is the time we acknowledge each other and sometimes have a small chat. The principal is often talking to me about our up coming trips or telling me about his own family adventures!
Be active in your child’s learning
You can ask your child’s teacher to send some work to be completed on your travels, but I have found that once the teacher knows how much we do that constitutes learning, they don’t seem to see the need. I do have my own sets of workbooks that the kids sometimes complete but my main educational tool is books! The kids always take more than one book away with us and are always reading in their down time or in the car /plane/ waiting/ or before bed. I have found that if you keep the reading up all else follows and the teachers love it!
Writing journals for most travelling families is the best way to document their travels this helps with their literacy and my kids do this every trip. I have also found that the kids videoing or writing a piece on their adventure then sending it back via email to the teacher /class while we are still away, is very beneficial and appreciated by the teacher as well as demonstrating that the kids are always learning no matter where they are. Here is a short video the kids sent back to school while at Taronga zoo.
I have found that being upfront from the start has worked the best for me. I used to sometimes write on the kids absent letters that they were sick ( if we had only gone a few days) but this was bound to back fire eventually, especially when the teacher would ask the kid how they were feeling and more then one child attends that school…. how do you explain an epidemic in the house!?! Best to tell the truth!
Learn about the curriculum
In NSW the primary school curriculum is based on the 6 keys learning areas of Mathematics, Literacy, Science and technology, PD health and PE, Human Society and the Environment and The Creative arts. I’m not primary school trained, I only know this because I looked it up online and have spoken to teachers, it also gives the learning outcomes/goals for each year level, so look up your states / countries corresponding curriculum and use this. When the kids have a day / weeks off I use this outline to document what they have learnt each day in these areas and add any relevant documentation eg: worksheets, projects, journal jottings, photos, and I send it off to the teacher the day we get back. My kids teachers seem to value this and it gives them an insight into what they are learning when we travel.
Note:If you are taking your children out for long term travel you will have to look into Distance Education or home schooling, again check with your school on the protocols.
Remember: Your kids will learn so much from travelling so don’t be afraid to take them out of school!
I hope those tips are helpful for you!
Do you have any tips that have helped with dealing with your child’s school when you have taken them out for travelling? Please share below!