How Do You pull Your Kids Out of School to Travel?

How Do You pull Your Kids Out of School to Travel?

Now that we’ve been in London for about 10 days, I’ve gotten the question “How did you get permission to pull your kids out of school?” from both Americans and Brits alike.

The short answer is: We asked.

Granted, there are a few caveats: My youngest son is still in preschool, so there’s really no issue that he’s gone for 6 weeks. In fact, we asked for and received a prorated tuition amount for the time he’ll be gone, so that was some extra money in our pocket.

For our first grader, I was a bit unsure of how it would go, since we hadn’t pulled kids out of the public school system before and we’d been warned by other parents – none of whom had ever done a workation – that the school would not allow a child to be gone for that long. And I didn’t have any interest in homeschooling while we’re abroad.

But last summer, right before we booked our plane tickets, I emailed the principal, explained the opportunity we have to travel/work abroad, and told him our first grader would have a nanny who would ensure he did his core school work (reading, math) every day. “Are there any red flags or negative consequences if he is gone for 6 weeks?” I asked.

The principal’s replied that very same day with something along the lines of, “That should be fine. Have fun!”

My son’s teacher was equally enthusiastic about the workation opportunity and even did a little lesson on London for the class before he left (my son learned a lot from that too!). I am so grateful for the teacher’s and principal’s support and understanding that education is more than just the classroom experience!

Their typical day here
Every day here in London, the nanny makes sure that the boys spend time reading, working on math lessons, doing some workbooks/brain teasers that I brought for them, playing chess or checkers, and writing or drawing pictures about their day. They will report back to their class a few things about what they saw and learned.

I fully recognize that if my kids were older and there were other factors (like more complex school work or standardized testing), the ability to pull them out may not be so easy.

But on the other hand, I was talking with a mom of two middle school students and she said the teachers post a lot of lesson information online, and kids can email their teachers with questions. We got really excited about the possibilities! If you’re in that situation, maybe you could rent your kids a desk in a coworking space, where they could join you every day and do their school work? Perhaps there are special projects they could do (for example, for a history class, visit historical markers and do a research report)? I think there are a lot of ideas and possibilities around this based on what your school requires and how creative you and the teacher can be!

Lay the Groundwork
I also think having a relationship with your children’s school is really important to establish before you talk to a teacher or principal about pulling them out of school for a long period of time. If no one knows who you are, will they trust you to make sure your child stays on top of their lessons? Spend some time at the school when you can, even if it’s just attending conferences. Putting a face and a personality to your request, I’m convinced, will help your cause.

To recap, if you are thinking of a workation and are wondering how to get permission to take your kids out of school for an extended period of time (without having to homeschool them), here are my recommendations:

  1. Establish some sort of basic relationship with your kids’ teacher and principal, even if it’s just that they know your name and see you at the school occasionally.
  2. Have a plan for how your child will keep up with school work while abroad: Will s/he have a nanny? Can they do most of the work on their own or online? Talk with the teacher (or friends who are teachers and supportive of your workation plan) for ideas.
  3. Ask.

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