Thursday, January 26, 2012

Planning for termtime: My Big Five - Part 3

Following on from sorting out school supplies and lunchbox contents and locking in extracurriculars, the third thing I do in these lead-up weeks that makes going back to school more pleasant is:

3. Plan and book our autumn holiday

We have a strong tradition of late summer - autumnal holidays in our family. Before G and I had kids, we travelled a few times, and all of them in the Australian autumn (granted, we travelled sometimes to places where we found spring!)

Since we've had the girls, we've holidayed five times, on all but one occasion between late February and early April (our Gippsland farm holiday, last October, being the sole exception).

There are a few reasons for this preference. Firstly, G usually finds it difficult to get time off work over the long summer break (he can, and does, take odd days here and there - like much of the nation, I expect, he's got tomorrow off to make a 4-day weekend of Australia Day - but periods of a week or longer are very hard.) Secondly, everything is more expensive travel-wise in the summer peak, and friends' holiday houses, on which we have relied twice already, are not available when the family is using them itself. Thirdly, everything is more crowded, especially at popular places, and the heat can get really uncomfortable. Fourthly, we all enjoy having the summer hanging about at home - day trips and excursions, exploring our own spaces, suit us on the long staycation.

While weather is often chancier (naturally), we've had reasonable luck with it so far - each of our autumn holidays (Mornington Peninsula, Phillip Island, Echuca and Anglesea) has had at least half the days fine and warm, and we have always been able to find fun things to do on the colder days.

Locking in our autumn holiday now allows me to:
- Book holiday houses (if available) or inexpensive paid accommodation
- Give the girls a real say in where we go - we can discuss options, make enquiries, choose somewhere together because the time is there to do so
- Get husband's leave locked in, and allows me to give plenty of notice to the companies I occasionally contract to regarding unavailability
- Build anticipation and give us something to look forward to in what can be a hectic first term

In all but one instance so far (3 out of 4), we have holidayed in a termtime week. This raised no eyebrows when it was A skipping a week of 3-year-old then 4-year-old kinder, but last year, when we took E out of Prep and A out of Grade 2 for a week, a few people questioned whether it was a wise decision. Obviously I feel it was, as we're doing it again this year, but I know there are different views on it. (Do you have a view? Tell, tell!)

Taking a week out of term one actually worked very well for us last year; the girls really benefited from the downtime, they read heaps, played maths games and Scrabble, kept holiday diaries, explored wildlife and the ocean, sent postcards to their classes, and generally, I'm quite convinced, learned every bit as much as they would have at school. The school was a little cooler on the idea initially but ended up being quite happy, as it was apparent that neither kid had lost ground in their sneaky 7 days off :-) I hope they'll see it my way again when I once again present my letters excusing both girls for a week this term, but even if they're not super keen, it's my decision to make - they are my children and it is our family needs, which are best served by this holiday pattern, that I need to consider.


  1. I happily take my kids out of school for a week each year - although slightly harder with #1 living with her dad, he doesn't aprove, but I've been doing it since she started school 9 years ago. Sometimes the things they learn out of school have more use than the things they learn at school.

  2. We'll be pulling them from kinder for 2 weeks just after they've started. I think the experiences they can have on a holiday, the things they can learn about our country or about the world are just as important as anything they can learn in a classroom.

  3. I don't think that taking children out of school particular primary school for just one week should raise any eyebrows at all. Particularly when it sounds as though they are doing plenty of educational work while they are enjoying their holiday and probably not even realising it. I had a friend who's parents took him and his brother out for three months while they travelled Australia in Year 8 and they came back with all their work completed and in fact were well ahead of their classmates. Responsible and education parenting will never hold your children back.

  4. Needless to say, I agree with you all and think you're very sensible ladies :-)