This year, as everyone gets ready to go back to school, our household also went out and bought new lunchboxes, backpacks, and other supplies. My son this summer made the transition from his pre-school classroom to a Kindergarten – Prep classroom, where he will spend the next year gaining the skills he needs to go to Kindergarten. This August my daughter left the wonderful home care provider we’ve had since my son was little and transitioned to my son’s school, so she can start learning in a more structured environment.
As I looked at our travel schedule the next two years, I suddenly came to the realization that come next August, my son will enter the local public Kindergarten and our schedule will be constrained for the next 18 years by the dreaded words “School Holidays”.
Sure, my kids are currently in “school”. But it’s really a early learning day care center that I pay (a lot of money) for. They are not taking tests, don’t have homework, and subjects missed do not need to be covered on vacation to build on what they are learning next week. Right now, when I plan to travel, I specifically avoid school holidays if possible to keep costs down. We go to India in the winter months to avoid the heat of the summer. Once my kids are in public schools, things start to change.
When the kids are younger, I’ll likely take them out of school; I’m not looking to win any perfect attendance awards. But it won’t be for a month in November, like we did to go to Argentina. In reality, how many days a year do you really dare miss? And part of me, is in disbelief about the fact that I (the parent) am actually trying to test the system – a job that is normally reserved for the student… sigh!!!
Then at some point, what a child is learning becomes past your skill level to teach them. My husband and I are both highly educated people, with a BA in Math, a BS and a MS in Electrical Engineering, and a MBA between us. But I couldn’t begin to remember how to do a chemistry equation or a physics problem. And don’t get me started on liberal arts term papers. While I’m sure we can help with homework (at least in science and math) well into high school, teaching vital lessons missed will be more difficult. Once that point comes, I would find it hard to take the kids out for more than a few days at a time. In addition, the curriculum structures are so different now and will continue to evolve and challenge students (and parents and other supporters in turn) but then I digress.
Coming back to the “travel” part of this note, how do I take advantage of our last free year? We have a trip to India planned in November. But there is one trip my husband and I are going back and forth on: Disneyland. We see this year as our last chance to go during the school year, when crowds are smaller and hotels are cheaper. Also, since our daughter is under 3, she can go for free. But even a long weekend at the cheapest time, is quite expensive. With the expense of India, it will be tight to fit in this year. But it will only get more expensive once this magic year is done.
For now we will continue to take advantage of this golden year as much as possible. Once we hit kindergarten, travel will change forever as we know it.
What drove this epiphany you ask? My sister has booked a wedding date. Late September, 2015. On a Friday. That means my son is going to miss at least 2 days of school, if not more. 1 month into Kindergarten. Que sera sera…