Friday, September 13, 2013

Top 3 Reasons our Family Picks Travel (over just school)

It's a question I hear a lot.

"Why does your family travel so much?" comes the casual comment.

Then the kicker.

"Don't you think they are missing too much school?"

We do miss an above-average amount of school days.  In fact, the "number of absences" on the kid's report cards is usually right around the same as their percentage grade by the end of the school term (they actually count every block in the day in our district, if you can imagine.)  But since both numbers are in the high 80's or 90's I don't get that concerned.  They are still achieving great results, even though missing the daily routine.

How?  Well, because I am a firm believer that experiential learning actually anchors the theory taught in books... and the world is a wonderful classroom.  Why do we take our kids out of school during the year?  Here's our top 3 reasons.

1.  Family Field Trips
When I was teaching middle school full-time (life before we had kids) I would usually anchor my social studies unit plan with a field trip.  The "foods" unit in grade nine French had a trip to experience French cuisine, and the Fur Traders unit in grade 8 history went to Fort Edmonton Park, our local living museum.

Now that I'm a Mom, I still do it (though usually just for our kids, and maybe a friend or two).  School budgets being what they are today, this kind of thing is no longer in the curriculum.  But ask any teacher, and she probably wishes a trip to the Royal Tyrell Museum in Drumheller COULD be the activity in grade 8 science...  We've gone to the places our kids have learned about and extended their knowledge.  And we've gone both close and far, to enhance their learning.  Are they missing school? I personally think it's bringing the book lessons to life.

2.  Sports
Katie was asked to be the "absentee helper" in her grade four class this year.  It is up to her to gather assignments for kids who are away.  She asked for an assistant, since she realizes she is the one who will need the most help. This year we are headed to Vancouver for Western Canadians, and (hopefully) London, England for the World Championships at Easter.

Competitive sports have taught our children lessons about practice and perseverance, and the ability to achieve when it matters.  All four kids have had the opportunity to compete at International Levels... whether in rugby, hockey or dance.  It has taken them (and us!) to tournaments around the world, and they missed school because of it.  We'll count that as "gym".

3. Family Time
Now that our oldest has graduated from school and moved out on his own, I am truly seeing how little time we have together!  Between work commitments, and school, and sports, our lives are BUSY.  And we don't want that "busy-ness" to be the only memories we have as a family.

There's a quote at the end of my book that sums up how I feel:

"Of all the wonders in the world, the greatest wonder of them all, was sharing it with you."

Every day, we prioritize what is important in our life by how much time we spend on it.  We all have the same 24 hours.  But we don't know how many of them we will get.   SEIZE THE DAY.

We get to choose what we do.  Our "five months away" underlined for me that the most important wasn't all the stuff we collect, wear or purchase.  It is our time together, doing things we love, sharing the world.

It 's pretty easy to practice spelling, and math, in the sand.

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