Disney with Little Ones: The School Struggle

13662167_10102244004419224_8779736423025481266_oIn a few days, my youngest son will begin Kindergarten and his big brother starts 1st grade. We’ve been to Disney World with our sons two times so far and both trips were while they were in pre-school. I felt guilty for them missing school then, and now I am really struggling with making this decision about if or when I should pull them out of elementary school for our next Disney vacation. 

I am confident about one thing after talking it over with friends and family: People are passionate about this topic and feel strongly about it one way or the other. 

Part of me understands the educator’s point-of-view. There are 185 days per year when children are not in school. Why not choose 7 of those to spend away on vacation? At back-to-school night, the principal really emphasizes the importance of every minute of instruction time. I’ve already gotten the vibe that a trip to Disney World will never qualify as a week’s worth of excused absences for them. I struggle with knowing that they are missing school. I struggle with worry about what the teachers and principal will think that I am teaching my kids disrespect for rules and expectations. That I am dismissive about their educations. I am also concerned with my kids missing out on precious education hours and once-in-a-school year events. 

But then there’s the other part of me that says who cares what they think? A week of missed school won’t make my kids less smart or less successful as adults. There’s the responsible mother who is also a Disney World enthusiast. A parent who works with her kids at night and encourages them to do their best in school. A mom on a budget. A person who would much rather earn hard-earned dollars enjoying smaller crowds, milder temps, and deeper discounts.

This summer I have read reports that Disney World attendance is down from past years, but I know that prices and daily temperatures are still at their peaks. It would be risky to use this year’s new reported trend as a guide for planning future trips.  Free Dining or a 10-30% room only discount have historically been available in September in years past. If this continues, it would be possible for my family to experience what would probably be the once in a lifetime opportunity to stay in a Deluxe resort because it would be much more affordable for us. 

As my kids get older, I know I will struggle even more with taking them out of school. The time is now, while they are little and it’s easier for them to make up their work, if I am ever going to have the guts to take them out of school for a Disney vacation.

Have you ever taken your children out of school for a Disney vacation? Do you have any regrets? 

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Candice was raised in east Tennessee. While in college, her best friend dragged her to a Walt Disney World College Program recruiting session at the University of Tennessee and the rest is Disney history. In the Fall of 1999, Candice became a quick service food hostess for Sunset Ranch Market and Fantasmic at Disney-MGM Studios – or what is now known as Disney’s Hollywood Studios. While soaking up her time as a cast member, she met Ryan, a neighbor and a fellow college programmer who worked as a custodial host at Epcot. Four years later, Candice moved to the Midwest and married that boy from across the hall. They now live in Greenwood, Indiana with their two little boys. The Disney-loving foursome took their first family trip to The Happiest Place on Earth in 2013 and Candice is eagerly planning their return. Candice also works full-time at a community mental health center and enjoys taking photographs and blogging at Mommy in the Midwest.

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2 Responses to Disney with Little Ones: The School Struggle

  1. Donna says:

    Actually I pulled my 2 girls totally out of school when they were 9 and 12. I was very nervous but had support from other home schooling moms. Both my girls had special educations needs one ASD. They were not doing well in school and our very small district did all it could do to not spend money on meeting their needs. Some were common sense needs that would cost no money – but if all the kids aren’t doing this we aren’t doing it for your girls was the standard response. So we home schooled. Disney is a learning experience. There is so much that can apply to schooling. Going to Mr Lincolns. The Presidential Hall of Fame, the plays are theater at its best. Shopping and budgeting their money is math. But for us all the the travel by car to Disney could be learning. We stopped at President Carters church in Georgia and had Sunday School with him. We went to light houses and learned history there. We went to Sea Aquariums on both coasts of Florida and learned much there. Also having an ASD daughter we learned to interact, to practice self control, to not get upset in lines and the list goes on :) I don’t think a week will hurt your kids – life skills are as important as a week in the class at any age ! Thats my passionate feel on it :)

  2. Taryn Duncan says:

    I completely agree! I am a homeschooling mama and I am always grateful for it when we head off to Disney World. I am uncomfortable with the idea of a school district getting control over my child’s life and my family’s experiences together, and our vacations are always amazing educational experiences. This year we are learning about energy, motion, and velocity, and riding the rides is a fantastic way to demonstrate that. For those who don’t homeschool their children, I definitely agree that one week isn’t going to hurt anyone as long as the child isn’t already struggling. In fact, knowing that they are getting to go to Disney might just make them work harder! Life experiences, memories, and applicable life skills are just as, if not more, important than regurgitating facts, and taking the time to do something special with your children will help them to be well-rounded, fulfilled human beings.

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