Mailbag: No Kidding Around!
This is a special mailbag edition of “The View from Scopa Towers” in which Michelle Scribner-MacLean I answer some of the many emails we received regarding our “No Kidding Around” blogs.
To refresh your memory, here are the links to Part 1 and Part 2.
Following each letter you’ll first find Michelle’s comments, followed by my comments.
Many readers supported the idea of having a trip to WDW enhance their educational experiences.
Karen’s daughter integrated her study of Germany with her trip:
“We ate lunch at the Biergarten and interviewed cast members about their home country and gathered info from the menus, shops any anything else we could find. She also needed audio-visual aids, so we bought a t-shirt with the German flag on it and some cookies made in Germany. (She wore the t-shirt and passed out cookies to the class) We also picked up an EPCOT guide map (written) in German to use in her presentation.”
While the idea of turning your vacation into an extended field trip may not appeal to everyone, Karen and her family clearly sought out the details that make each of the countries at EPCOT so interesting. The food and the ambiance were designed to entertain, but also to teach visitors about the countries. Karen made the most of her child’s out-of-school experience by doing some preplanning.
I think that regardless of where you travel it will and should result in somewhat of an educational experience. WDW is no exception. The term “edutainment” was coined to describe what EPCOT has to offer…but I think it is also suitable for all the theme parks. There are some things you just cannot teach in the classroom.
Several teachers jumped on-board and had their say. Larry, who is from a family of teachers, speaks for many educators wrote:
“…we suggest a temporary tutor or relative who can catch up the child. If they do take the work with them, and complete it and come back with a question, that’s great--we'll help. But many, many vacationing kids who take the work with them do NOT even start it, much less complete it. We gladly work with kids after school that have been out due to illness or other legitimate (approved/excused) reason. Even though we are tremendous Disney fans, we don't approve of leaving school for a trip.”
Larry makes an important point. If you’re planning on taking your children out of school, it is a good idea to contact the teacher to find out what work needs to be completed or made-up, but parents need to follow through. Missing school to go to WDW doesn’t mean that the work missed disappears. Making up the work might be considered “part of the deal” – and parents should hold up their part of the bargain by ensuring work that their child missed is turned in.
Let’s face it, life is a partnership and early on our partners are our parents. If these partners don’t pull their weight then there will be consequences. I think the most discouraging aspect of this is that these parents miss out on teaching their kids a lesson on responsibility and also unfortunately are making a comment to their children that perhaps school is not that important.
A cadre of parents wrote to express their appreciation for teachers who were supportive and accommodating teachers. They felt that many educators supported their decision to take their children out school to go to WDW.
Reader Stacey agreed, saying, “Many teachers are more than willing to work with you so that you can take a nice family vacation and also make it a learning experience.”
Trying to find quality family time is something with which many parents struggle. Some parents supported the idea of taking children out of school because they have work schedules that do not mesh with school vacations, while others believe that taking their kids out of school to go to WDW only enhanced their family experience.
It’s that partnership thing again….the child-parent-teacher partnership can make this a wonderful experience and in today’s society everyone’s schedule is just plain nuts. I know when my children were young there were piano lessons, singing lessons, dance lessons, baseball, soccer, basketball, and oh yes I was playing softball and coaching so rarely were those family days. When we went to WDW it was for two weeks at a time…the best two weeks of the year because we did everything together….priceless….but those two weeks were during the summer when our schedules were open.
Here are some other comments:
Pat mentioned that she and her family decided that taking kids out of school worked better when they were younger, but not as they grew older. She goes on to say, “…family time is an extremely rare commodity these days. The times we spent at Disney World are great memories for our family just spending together. We now have two college graduates, so I guess our Disney Trips did nothing to hurt their academic progress.”
Deb believed that her experience with her granddaughter was worth the missed school time:
“Her wonderful experience with us, at Disney, far outweighed any loss from being in school during that week. She still talks about her experiences every single time we get together. Life is about the memories we create with our loved ones.”
Finally, reader Marguerite broke Mike’s heart by asking…
“What exactly is a "Dole Whip?”
Michelle’s final thoughts on the topic (for now):
Regardless of whether or not parents decide to take their students out of school, planning a trip to WDW should be a team effort. Parents, children, and teachers should discuss the pros and cons of missing school, how feasible it will be to make up work, and weigh the benefits of a trip to WDW against the potential difficulties of making up school work. There’s no right or wrong here – every family has to make the decision that is best for them.
Mike’s final thoughts on the topic (for now):
The only right answer here is what is most appropriate for the individual child. Some children will thrive with an opportunity to enhance his/her education outside the classroom. A WDW vacation will do so. Others may struggle and face “catch up” on the return.
What is important here is that any decision should not be made in a vacuum but after some discussion among parent, teacher, and child. Remember, the focus should be on the child and a WDW vacation that requires taking the child out of school, if done right, will return many dividends.
We have received so many emails on this topic that it became very difficult to determine which ones to include in the mailbag; each and every email was worthy. We felt it best to include those which most exemplify the majority of opinions expressed.
We thank those of you who took the time to write and send your thoughts on this subject.
Michelle & Mike