Not a holiday

Every so often the debate about parents taking their kids out of school for a ‘holiday’ raises its head. There’s been a bit more coverage about that today.

So let me be clear: this is not (just) a holiday!

I admit, I was a bit apprehensive about having to tell the boys’ school that they would be out of class for a whole term… but they were really good about it.

The reality is that this is not a holiday. We will be living in France and trying to experience, as much as we can, normal daily life, albeit in a different environment. Most importantly, the boys will be going to school and they would be the first to argue that is NOT a holiday! They’ll be blogging about their experience (writing), they’ll be visiting monuments, museums and galleries (inquiry), they’ll be operating in a foreign currency (maths), they’ll be exploring the local countryside (field trips). They’ll be learning another language.

This is not the first time we’ve taken the boys out of school for a ‘holiday’. In 2013 they missed two weeks of school so they could accompany me to my brother’s wedding in New Jersey. In 2012 they had four weeks out of school for a trip to Europe. Similarly in late 2008.


Here’s Ollie overcoming his fear of heights by climbing the Eiffel Tower, age 10.

I’ve always believed that holidays are a right, not a privilege. We usually take our holidays in the school breaks, but every so often we need to take them in school time. I’ve always seen this as an educational opportunity and have found the schools very amenable.

Having said that, I’m not sure if I’ll be brave enough to take them out of their French school for a long weekend!

What’s your experience?

4 thoughts on “Not a holiday

  1. Gemma

    Hi Jen, or I should say bonjour! Good luck for the trip and I look forward to following the blog. I expect many photos of cheese.

  2. sonjajellis

    What you are doing – as you’ve clearly pointed out – is not a holiday; it’s an educational experience. As someone well versed in educational theory (having both studied education and worked in the education sector) I can confidently say that we shouldn’t conflate ‘education’ and ‘schooling’. As a New Zealander who has chosen (maybe) to live a very long way away from where I grew up, I appreciate how transformative such an experience can potentially be. I’m not a parent so cannot necessarily speak for those who are, but I am not sure that I would view parents taking their kids out of school to travel round theme parks or to take an all-inclusive hotel holiday on the Costa del Sol in quite the same way. In the interests of both better understanding one’s cultural roots and appreciating cultural difference I think the sort of thing you are doing in really important. I hated history at school but it wasn’t until (as an adult) that I began to appreciate it because I was in Europe and there were examples and reminders all around me. When I was about Tom’s age I learned about medieval castles and the peasants living inside the walled city – to go to Portchester for the first time and see the fairly intact remains of exactly that was amazing. A few years back I went with my Mum to Belgium on a WW1 tour; this too brought history alive for me in a way that just learning about it from books or in class could never do. This will be such a wonderful educational experience for Ollie and Tom – going to school at the same time will just enrich the experience.

  3. Pingback: How’s your French? | putitontheslate

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