Should parents take their teens out of school for family holidays?

August 30, 2018

Should parents take their teens out of school for family holidays?

Exploring Teens written debate - Series #1, debate #6

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Before we begin, I ask for consideration of the following:

  • Please appreciate that these writers are not professional writers. They are part of the Exploring Teens audience and have volunteered to write one side of this debate.
  • These debates show that every area of parenting has people who will passionately see it from completely opposite perspectives. Everyone’s experience is shaped by the lens of their own experience. It’s unlikely there is ever a ‘right’ or a ‘wrong’ position.
  • Reading through the debates, I am in awe as to how much thought people put into parenting. We often beat ourselves up, but I can't see any inadequacies here. All I see is committed and passionate people wanting to do their very best for the teens in their care.


The case FOR taking teens out of school for family holidays

Do I think parents should be able to take their kids out of school for a family holiday? Dam straight I do, and for the following reasons;

1. As parents, I don’t believe anyone has the right to tell us when and how we spend time with our own children.  The laws that govern taking your child out of school are contentious at best. If my child is up to date with their work, agrees to do additional work whilst on holidays and puts in the extra hours independently when they return, where is the harm?

2. There is no doubt that going away within school holidays is much more expensive than during term time.  Airlines have seasons for airfares, as do accommodation providers and so travel during school holidays is a much more expensive exercise than at other times. Trust me, you won't see an airline have a special airfare during school holidays - I'm a travel agent, it just doesn’t happen.

3. The value of taking family holidays is key to family bonding. There is no doubt that when we are on holidays we are all a little more relaxed, we experience new things as a family and we take away memories that last a lifetime.

A family holiday doesn't need to be overseas or interstate, it could be camping somewhere local, but if you are restricted to weekends or school holiday periods, you will still be competing with significant crowds at those times. Try pitching your tent with 500 other families all vying for the best spot closest to the beach.  It’s never going to be a relaxing time! A holiday is just as important for parents (sometimes even more so) as it is for the kids. Parents are taking a break from work/family responsibilities and may be in desperate need for a ‘quiet break’.

4. The educational value of taking your family to experience another culture is huge.  The world often opens up for a child and suddenly, their future has no limits. To hear your children say ‘I'm going to live there when I'm older’ after a family holiday is priceless. They've seen something that their home doesn't offer that makes them dream and aspire to something different.

Personally, I have four children. My first two I raised mostly as a single parent. I never took them out of school during the school term. Instead we took the train to visit grandparents during school holidays. That was our holiday.

Now with my teenage twins we have opportunities to travel the world, somewhat because of my job but mostly because we have the finances.  The opportunities that present are never in the school holidays, so we go, against the principal’s advice. And we learn and grow and connect as a family. Sometimes other families come with us, and we have shared memories of times when we went further, because we could.

We have family living overseas so we often have to travel for special occasions. Weddings, milestone birthdays and occasionally funerals. These occasions rarely occur during school holidays. When this happens, we take advantage of any airfares we have already booked and extend our time to make a family holiday.

There is value in family holidays that is greater than the value of missing a couple of weeks a year from school.

Will I take my children out of school now that they are in the final two years of high school?

Yes, if we have to and if as parents we deem it necessary. However, we won't plan to, purely because their workload is great, the pressure high, and they're also holding down part time jobs, so it's not necessarily feasible.

Instead we will simply grab every weekend we can to get away as a family because we have already shown our kids the world.   It's now their time to use the experience of travel that we have given them, to build and create their own lives.


Author bio: I am 47 years old, a mother of four and grandmother (meema) of one. Because of life’s circumstances, I feel it’s been more luck than good parenting that they all – so far – have turned out remarkably well.



The case AGAINST taking teens out of school for family holidays


Going on family holidays during the school holidays can be an absolute pain… busy, expensive, overcrowded – at the peak of the season. It can become an unenjoyable experience for all involved. The idea to take holidays during the school term becomes very tempting. The pros of doing so are obvious.

The Education Act (1990) requires that ‘parents ensure their children of compulsory school are enrolled at, and regularly attend school. Once enrolled, children are required to attend school each day it is open for students’. There it is: black and white. It is the Law for children to attend school, and it is the responsibility of the parent to get them there.

The society we live in today seems to be happy breaking rules, when it suits them. Rather than teaching our teens that – here are the rules, and we need to abide by them – parents seem to be happy supporting the attitude of - here are the rules, that’s great – really helpful. Oh but they don’t suit us today, so we’ll just break them for now.

In order for our teens to grow up ready and equipped with the skills they need to survive in the adult world, they need to be able to understand boundaries, rules and consequence. If they are constantly looking for, and being supported in looking for, the loophole in regulations then they will become adults who find it hard to be told what to do. This doesn’t bode well – in the household, in the work place, in society as a whole. The sooner that our teens are taught that there are rules (and the reasons for those rules) and the consequences of those rules, the better. This enables them to understand the parameters of adult life and that not everything can be ‘adjusted’ to suit. Sometimes it’s time to just suck it up. That’s the way it is.

Parents need to stop giving teens the opportunity of an ‘out’. It’s tough; parenting is challenging on a day-to-day basis. As a mother of 6 children (age range 21-8), and a teacher I get that. It’s easier just to say yes sometimes, or to bend the rules to suit the family situation. My husband is a shift worker, allocated one month’s holiday once a year. It is non-negotiable and rarely falls in school holidays. It would definitely be easier for all of us to pack our bags and head out on holiday around his work roster. Or to have extended weekends with a few days off school here and there that suits his work – but we don’t. Ours is a busy household, very busy. The kids need routines, they need to know the expectations and understand the consequences of that. Therefore they understand how hard Dad works, that sometimes he isn’t always there to celebrate particular events, or to go on holidays… but we work around it. We might head away for a few days and wait for Dad to join us when available. Or we wait for the rare occasion when his month’s annual leaves DOES fall in the holidays… it does happen, occasionally! And that makes the holiday that we do take even more special. Time to celebrate family time and to be thankful for what we have.

The introduction of the National Curriculum in 2015 has made the working day in the educational world even more jam-packed. More prescribed, more detailed – teachers are implementing their planning to ensure they get it all covered. In order for the student to gain the whole course content, to understand the topics, to demonstrate understanding and growth throughout the course – they need to be in the classroom in the first place! How are teachers expected to cover this more centrally controlled National Curriculum for all students if they have weeks of the term with high student absence due to holidays? In W.A. the Education Department figures recorded one in seven student absences in the first half of 2017 were related to students going on holiday. That’s nearly 15% of all absences. Unnecessary, avoidable absenteeism.

In June 2018 a school in Basildon, Essex in the UK announced that it was going to make the last week of the school year an ‘enrichment’ week. The students have to show what they have planned to do during the week and complete an educational booklet after the break.. Parents would need to list the activities they do when away. Maybe this is something for Australian schools to think about – dedicate a week at the end of the school year – when the exams are done and the curriculum completed – to educational enrichment activities. Food for thought?


Author bio: Mother of 6 children (age range 8-21), High School Geography teacher. Educated and raised in the UK, now enjoying a hectic and busy life with a bulging house!




So now it's over to you guys!

We love would love to know which side of the debate you sit on.  

NEXT DEBATE IN SERIES #1 ----> to be determined.  If you think you would like to participate and have a topic you are passionate about, then please contact us 

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