Factoring in School and Kids for your DVC decisions

SecondEventuality

Mouseketeer
Joined
Jun 28, 2019
Hey All!

Since our son just only started in Kindergarten this year, I was wondering if other parents could share booking only during school "off" days or if there are ideas and ways around this that I am not aware of. We just assumed taking him out is not a big deal (based on our own experience growing up, but was a long time ago in the '80s) until we heard from other parents that once middle school arrives, they can only book during off times due to school work demands. The reason why I also ask is that we prefer to visit WDW when the crowds are the lowest, which would factor in our UY decision, but this also means that we'd have to take our son out of school for this duration and want to avoid any problems ahead of time. If we buy DVC based on the premise that we need to visit during school off days, then we'd like to know that now.

Is taking your child(ren) out of school only a big deal if it is longer vacations, say, 2 weeks? If so, would a good strategy around this is to take him out of school for only 1 week instead?

Could a good strategy be early September, when it's the beginning of school (we live in NJ) and missing school is not as much as a big deal than in the middle of the school year, or it just doesn't matter? Or would he be disappointed to miss the first day of school as he grows up?

Thanks for your insight into all this!
 
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Marionnette

Children see magic because they look for it
Joined
Sep 26, 2009
Hey All!

Since our son just only started in Kindergarten this year, I was wondering if other parents could share booking only during school "off" days or if there are ideas and ways around this that I am not aware of. We just assumed taking him out is not a big deal (based on our own experience growing up, but was a long time ago in the '80s) until we heard from other parents that once middle school arrives, they can only book during off times du to school work demands. The reason why I also ask is that we prefer to visit WDW when the crowds are the lowest, which would factor in our UY decision, but this also means that we'd have to take our son out of school for this duration and want to avoid any problems ahead of time. If we buy DVC based on the premise that we need to visit during school off days, then we'd like to know that now.

Is taking your child(ren) out of school only a big deal if it is longer vacations, say, 2 weeks? If so, would a good strategy around this is to take him out of school for only 1 week instead?

Could a good strategy be early September, when it's the beginning of school (we live in NJ) and missing school is not as much as a big deal than in the middle of the school year, or it just doesn't matter? Or would he be disappointed to miss the first day of school as he grows up?

Thanks for your insight into all this!
In my experience (and my kids are in their late 20’s now) taking them out of school for more than 2-3 consecutive days makes it very difficult on the child once they return to school. We did it once when our oldest was in middle school and the end result was so bad that we stopped taking family vacations during the school year.

However, I will point out that once they enter high school, even the “off” days on the school calendar can be a problem due to athletic practices and games, band or choir obligations, and even class trips. So, choosing a UY now based on just the next few years is not an easy task.

And once you become empty nesters, your vacation dates change again.
 

Carol_

Mouseketeer
Joined
Aug 29, 2019
I used to get my assignments ahead of time and do my homework in the hotel. Now that all the kids are on chromebooks, can they not do their work on the computer from the hotel? I wouldn't have thought twice about taking my kid on vacation whenever I wanted. If the school wouldn't cooperate, then hello homeschool. Today we're studying the physics of rollercoasters!
 
  • Disneykate605

    Disney Life
    Joined
    Apr 26, 2018
    I don't think taking your child out of school more than 2 days or so once they hit middle school is a good plan. Since the student needs to make up classwork, homework and tests upon their return, missing more than a couple of days could lead to a very stressful return to school for your child.
     

    CanadaDisney05

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 20, 2017
    Just my personal opinion (my kids are very young), but does missing a week in middle school or even high school really matter? At the end of the day, will your child earn an extra dollar of salary in their career if they get an A or a B on that grade 8 science project? If they get a zero on that quiz on Pythagorean's theorem, will they look back and blame you? I'm just thinking about my own education. Even in University I skipped my share of classes. I don't personally feel like my career has been negatively affected by any of it.

    C's get degrees!
     

    katandmouse

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Apr 26, 2019
    IMO taking our kids out for 1 week becomes too problematic especially as they get older - like PP said, it's a lot of makeup work, and stressful on kids to plan extra time before/after school to make up tests, labs, etc. At most I would do a couple days for a long weekend, and tell their teachers well in advance so they can put together makeup work to bring with you.

    I also would be hesitant to pull kids in September when they are establishing school routines, making friends in their new classes, etc. What about traveling in August before school starts instead? We haven't been to WDW in summer in awhile, but I've heard that the summer months haven't been too crowded for the past few years. The other good thing is, during holidays, WDW hours and capacity are running at their peak so even though it's crowded, everything seems to flow pretty smoothly.

    Our oldest (of 3) is in kindergarten this year too. For the past few years we've mostly vacationed in early spring or fall. Once all our kids are in school though, we're planning on going during spring break and summer.
     

    SecondEventuality

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jun 28, 2019
    The other good thing is, during holidays, WDW hours and capacity are running at their peak so even though it's crowded, everything seems to flow pretty smoothly.
    Right, we were wondering if we should try to always go to WDW during Christmas week as a family tradition, but my husband really does not want to wait in long lines to get on and off rides. The 2 times we went by ourselves (prior to becoming parents) was amazing and both were in low crowd seasons (Jan and Sept). We literally just got off/on rides with hardly any wait the whole time, it was so wonderful. Then this past June we went for a short trip to just try out summertime as well as with a child (first trip as a family) and had three (park) days and literally ended up just walking around and not riding much of anything due to extremely long lines. Our son is too young to be patient and wait 100 minutes for a ride that lasts 30 seconds. My husband was pretty miserable. It was not an ideal trip. UGH!!!!!

    Thanks!!!
     

    katandmouse

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Apr 26, 2019
    Just my personal opinion (my kids are very young), but does missing a week in middle school or even high school really matter? At the end of the day, will your child earn an extra dollar of salary in their career if they get an A or a B on that grade 8 science project? If they get a zero on that quiz on Pythagorean's theorem, will they look back and blame you? I'm just thinking about my own education. Even in University I skipped my share of classes. I don't personally feel like my career has been negatively affected by any of it.

    C's get degrees!
    Fair point!

    Personally I was that kid who worried more about my grades than my parents did! I remember going to France on an exchange program for a week in high school, and when we came back I was so lost in Chemistry it took me months to make up the work and the C I got that semester devastated me. I mean, in hindsight, France! So worth it. But it was very stressful at the time.

    So much probably depends on the individual kids.
     

    _auroraborealis_

    I like marshmallows. And adult beverages.
    Joined
    Oct 18, 2015
    The impact of taking your kid out a week can also vary by district. Some districts (and states) have rigid policies about unexcused absences, and all the singing and dancing you want to try about Disney being "so educational!" will not fly. Can lead to grade deductions (work is still late, even if made up), hearings about lost days, etc.

    Even if you're "inside" the number of days that are permitted to miss, other factors can come into play. A friend pulled her girls for a week. The issue became that when one of her girls ended up hospitalized later in the year - which is an excused absnece - she rapidly fell under the statutory attendance days for the grade to "count" and had to do a lot of hearings around letting her child advance.

    Extracurriculars also come into play. Even if it's a break (no school), students who are on athletic teams can't miss some of that time. Like, our fall break is during football and soccer playoffs. If you are on vacation for either, don't expect to make the team the following season.
     

    katandmouse

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Apr 26, 2019
    Right, we were wondering if we should try to always go to WDW during Christmas week as a family tradition, but my husband really does not want to wait in long lines to get on and off rides. The 2 times we went by ourselves (prior to becoming parents) was amazing and both were in low crowd seasons (Jan and Sept). We literally just got off/on rides with hardly any wait the whole time, it was so wonderful. Then this past June we went for a short trip to just try out summertime as well as with a child (first trip as a family) and had three (park) days and literally ended up just walking around and not riding much of anything due to extremely long lines. Our son is too young to be patient and wait 100 minutes for a ride that lasts 30 seconds. My husband was pretty miserable. It was not an ideal trip. UGH!!!!!

    Thanks!!!
    Oh no! I guess “not too crowded” is all relative, ugh.
     

    LilyJC

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 3, 2017
    A huge factor is the child’s personality/aspirations. Our oldest is at the top of her class and has always despised missing school. While she was in middle school, missing school became even more stressful. We allowed her to choose whether to join us on our last trip to WDW about a year ago. Once she found out the dates of a volleyball tournament coincided with the trip, she opted to stay home with grandparents.

    Our youngest was still in elementary school, and had no problem with missing. We did have to set up an independent study program through our school with her teacher ahead of time. Everything had to be completed and returned immediately upon returning or all the absences would have been unexcused/ the contract void.

    Now that our oldest is in high school, there’s no way we’ll be doing any family trips outside of school breaks. School and extracurricular schedules are insane at this point.

    We’re fortunate to be very local to DLR, and have had APs for years. We’re able to get our Disney fix there. I still haven’t banked my leftover 2019 BCV points “just in case,” and will likely wait until closer to my deadline in March. 😏
     

    Jenniebee

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Oct 1, 2019
    However, I will point out that once they enter high school, even the “off” days on the school calendar can be a problem due to athletic practices and games, band or choir obligations, and even class trips. So, choosing a UY now based on just the next few years is not an easy task.
    Yes- this it is exactly! It gets to be beyond lessons and classwork, but other things too. The beginning of the school year is when there are orientation nights, back to school nights, tryouts and signups for things, etc. I know this is hard to imagine but your child may not want to miss school and may actually express disinterest in going to Disney if it means missing out on school things. Even the spring break is not a guarantee, sports teams, and clubs like Drama and Scouts still have practices or meets. You will have to take it year by year and see what he ends up getting involved in. It gets harder to take kids out of school honestly after 4th or 5th grade. Try mid June when school ends or August.
     

    pineapplepalms

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jul 5, 2017
    Fair point!

    Personally I was that kid who worried more about my grades than my parents did! I remember going to France on an exchange program for a week in high school, and when we came back I was so lost in Chemistry it took me months to make up the work and the C I got that semester devastated me. I mean, in hindsight, France! So worth it. But it was very stressful at the time.

    So much probably depends on the individual kids.
    This was me. It stressed me out to miss school for reasons like being sick or going on a trip for competitions. I wouldn’t have enjoyed a vacation knowing that I was missing school. Our area where we live now is also really competitive and I can’t imagine missing school for vacation would be easy. Also, we’ve been to Disney during the summer and busy times like around Christmas/NYE, and found ways to make it work without waiting in long lines while still having a great time. Part of it is having APs and now DVC and knowing that we’ll be back again soon, so there’s no pressure to do all the things.

    For us, we don’t plan on taking our kids out of school much for vacation as they get older. We’re taking advantage of it now since they’re only 1 and 3, so we have lots of trips lined up before the oldest starts kindergarten!
     

    lovin'fl

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 7, 2011
    My kids are all college now. But we first went to WDW, and bought DVC, when they were in elementary. I will say missing a little school in elementary was not all that bad. Once they get up in age and taking higher level math and whatnot, and testing, then it becomes harder to miss. But we'd do a 3 day break and miss maybe 2 days so we had a week vacay. Maybe even when it's half days you can miss those. As they get older, though, it will be harder and harder. Due to testing and activities.

    Two of mine played a year round competitive travel sport where they only have down time in early August and then Thanksgiving week and December (might have had to keep up with private lessons and conditioning but we could work a week vacation around that). So we did August vacays and Xmas trips for many years. But we also eeked out some other times like winter break at the end of January. They missed 1 day of school, got off 2 days and then the weekend so we could do a 5 night trip. Though we stressed right up to the flight because snow was a possibility and if they had any snow days prior to the trip they'd have school instead of the break. Once we were clear the break was on then we worried about snow causing flight delay or cancellation. It was flurrying as we took off.
     
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    ChimneyJim

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    May 27, 2012
    My kids were in 5th and 4th last year and we took them out for a week as we have for years. My 5th grader said it was too difficult to catch up and he felt behind for quite awhile.

    This year we went in the Summer and that will be the plan from now on. Only exception will be a long weekend October ‘21. We will be at MK for actual Anniversary.
     

    kboo

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 10, 2014
    Right, we were wondering if we should try to always go to WDW during Christmas week as a family tradition, but my husband really does not want to wait in long lines to get on and off rides. The 2 times we went by ourselves (prior to becoming parents) was amazing and both were in low crowd seasons (Jan and Sept). We literally just got off/on rides with hardly any wait the whole time, it was so wonderful. Then this past June we went for a short trip to just try out summertime as well as with a child (first trip as a family) and had three (park) days and literally ended up just walking around and not riding much of anything due to extremely long lines. Our son is too young to be patient and wait 100 minutes for a ride that lasts 30 seconds. My husband was pretty miserable. It was not an ideal trip. UGH!!!!!

    Thanks!!!
    You mentioned you're in NJ. I think "Jersey Week" sometime in the fall is a half-week that is off for most of the public schools? I think it's safe to say that even if all the NJ public schools are off that week, it may make crowds a little busier than the weeks before and after, but they're still nothing like the major holiday weeks. I'd also add that traveling with a child is just going to, by its nature, change the way you tour. DH and I went for a long weekend for our anniversary recently, and it was amazing how quickly we could get around. After having weathered many trips with kids, strollers and meltdowns, I learned to go with the flow and just plan on using my FPs and anything beyond that was icing on the cake. The "Disney for Families" board has a lot of helpful advice. Summer vacations are good - our public schools don't start til after Labor Day, so end of summer has been our "low crowds (but hot hot hot and rain)" time to travel. Many school districts start back up in mid-August.

    The impact of taking your kid out a week can also vary by district. Some districts (and states) have rigid policies about unexcused absences, and all the singing and dancing you want to try about Disney being "so educational!" will not fly. Can lead to grade deductions (work is still late, even if made up), hearings about lost days, etc.

    Even if you're "inside" the number of days that are permitted to miss, other factors can come into play. A friend pulled her girls for a week. The issue became that when one of her girls ended up hospitalized later in the year - which is an excused absnece - she rapidly fell under the statutory attendance days for the grade to "count" and had to do a lot of hearings around letting her child advance.

    Extracurriculars also come into play. Even if it's a break (no school), students who are on athletic teams can't miss some of that time. Like, our fall break is during football and soccer playoffs. If you are on vacation for either, don't expect to make the team the following season.
    This... our older kid is in 3rd grade and we've already gotten the email that says not to extend our April break because state-wide testing is on the MONDAY they get back. We've pulled her early for travel a few times. The longest was a week in kindergarten, and it wasn't problematic largely because it was kindergarten, but I think it also depends on the kid and how they're doing in school. We've missed a few days in the partial week leading up to Thanksgiving (once for Disney, once for family), and that also hasn't been a problem, but our kid is very conscientious and has always been ahead of the curve. This year, she is missing 2 days before Thanksgiving and the teacher will give her some work in advance.

    Even non-school-related extracurriculars (e.g weekend dance classes, etc) will usually have off the weekends around typical school breaks but not otherwise. As they get older (and we are just starting to see it now in 3rd grade), they also get less flexible about allowing your kid to miss too much. (The full-year dance class we were in had a limit of 3 missed classes over the whole year).

    All this to say, it is really your choice and depends in large part on the school system. In our area, private schools are a bit more relaxed about missing school. It also depends on your child and what they're into. I could see it becoming an issue as our DD gets older, and we'll probably do more long weekends/short trips outside of the summer, plan longer trips in the summer, and most likely get stuck going over Easter and Christmas if we want to avoid the summer. That said, we were at WDW this past April break, and I felt like Disney managed the crowds quite well. MK felt somewhat crowded, but it always feels crowded. The other parks were fine, and we did always book our 4th (and later) FP right after we'd scanned our 3rd.
     

    rg35

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 26, 2012
    This has been a hotly debated topic on Disboards since they have existed. Everyone is going to have a different opinion on it.

    We always vacation during the summer. School is a responsibility, and for us, leisure travels don't supersede that. Our kids also have a lot of homework, and playing catch up wouldn't be fun for anyone. In addition to that, in NYC absences are used as a criteria when applying to special programs for high school (I don't necessarily agree with that, but that's what it is), so we wouldn't want our kids to be eliminated for selection because we thought it was more important to take a trip that we can just as easily take over the summer when everyone is off from school.

    As a PP mentioned, "C's get degrees", but shooting for mediocrity isn't really a lesson that we're interested in conveying either, in addition to the above.
     

    CarolynFH

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 5, 2000
    Our kids were 9 and 13 when we bought in, and we took them out of school exactly one day, the Friday before Thanksgiving in order to cruise. Otherwise we didn't consider it. One of them was an excellent student and could have caught up easily - but would not have liked missing school because of being a serious student! The other would have loved to miss school - but would have struggled to catch up because academics just wasn't his thing. Then once we hit high school, as others above have written, a lot of additional factors come into play in addition to the academic.

    I think what I'm trying to say is that I would not advise planning to take the child out of school for vacations routinely, especially as the child gets older. It might work for that child or it might not, and you won't know until you get there.
     

    skippytx

    Bay Lake Tower
    Joined
    Aug 24, 2015
    I've taken my elementary aged kids out of school the last couple of years for WDW trips, but those days are over as soon as the oldest hits middle school. I've always bracketed the trips around existing school holidays, but still, it's getting to be more of a big deal than it was in the past. Our next trip is bracketed around a Friday and Monday off school. so the kids will only be missing 4 school days during a holiday week that not much happens on. It would be much tougher to take them out for an entire full week of classes even at their current grade levels (2nd and 4th).

    Texas State truancy laws don't help either. Texas has compulsory education laws on the books. I could get called to court to answer to misdemeanor charges and have to pay civil fines if they exceed a certain number of unexcused days. Strangely enough I could un-enroll my kids from school, go on vacation for 2 weeks, and re-enroll them and that's perfectly legal.

    When you factor in the shorter hours and decreased ride capacity of "slower" times, the fact there aren't really any slow times at WDW anymore, and everything else, it becomes even less attractive to pull the kids out of school for a long period of time. We're at the point where we book when the weather is good and the park hours are longer.
     

    Buzzw0rthy

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    May 3, 2019
    We have 2 young children one heading off to Kindergarten next year and one heading to pre-K. This was certainly a consideration for us as we were considering DVC. We knew going in that a good majority of our contract would be while our kids where in school / activities. For some insight I called my mom as she was a teacher for 35 years. Asked what she thought about us being "those parents" that have their kids out of school a week or 2 each year. She gave it a seal of approval and shared some ideas about how she would always make our trips educational when I was a kid. It turned into a funny conversation reminiscing about our family trips. After my wife and I we checked a few more boxes ourselves and felt comfortable, we took the plunge bought our contract and haven't looked back.
     

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