I totally understand parents traveling before or after the scheduled school vacations so that they may get that primo airfare. However, parents don't realize all the challenges and disruptions these extended trips/vacations have on the classroom and the teacher.
My response to these parents changed over the years. At the beginning of my career I would prepare all that work for the student to take on their vacation, only to have it returned to me unfinished or never returned at all. I don't think parents are aware of how much time it takes to prepare this work for their trip/vacation.
It was difficult to be pleasant to the habitual vacation family or the ones who would return all tanned and mellow and then expect me to catch their child up on everything the child had missed, or the parent who brought their child to school straight from the airport where they had just returned from an 8-hour flight expecting me to deal with an exhausted child.
What I've learned:
- Some trips/vacations are worth it, especially those in which the child would learn so much by the experience, such as a travel-learning trip/vacation.
- Don't prepare the work for the student to take with them. Instead, tell the parent to have the student read 20-30 minutes each night, perhaps keep a reading journal. The parents should design 5-10 math problems each night for the child to solve. Also, have the student keep a journal, with photos or drawings, of their trip. Parents can also buy commercially produced workbooks.
- Save all the work that is done during the student's absence. Give the work to the parents to do with the student at home and then return finished products for grading. Make sure to give the parent a deadline for the work to be returned.
- It becomes increasingly more difficult for a student to miss school after grade 2, due to mandated testing.
Check to see what your district or school's policy is on this issue before you decide what you will be doing. If there isn't a policy it would be beneficial for your school to establish one.
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Also, take a moment to check-out my book on effective strategies:
On another note, I will not have access to the Internet until Sunday, March 11th. In the meantime, browse through the strategies included in this blog and find one that you would like to experiment with.