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Balancing kids' school w/family vacations (or, the impossible juggling act)

Balancing kids' school w/family vacations (or, the impossible juggling act)

Oct 1st, 2013, 06:56 PM
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 11,786
You can see Lipizzaners a lot of places, because they tour the US. I have seen them twice here.

But there is NO comparison to seeing the real thing, in their historic setting. Just saying that I understand the OPs wish to see them in Austria.
Tabernash2 is offline  
Oct 1st, 2013, 06:56 PM
Join Date: Jan 2010
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As a parent of two teenagers still at home, I struggle with this issue too. We get hit with higher ticket prices times four because we're limited to school breaks for travel. It used to be worse....our oldest is grown and on her own now. My girls are also very active in sports and extra-curricular activities, and the thought of having to keep all those assignments straight would just be too stressful for them. Plus, they're on the block schedule, so missing one week is really like missing two weeks.

This is where the beauty of homeschooling is so appealing. We homeschooled for three years when the girls were in elementary school and it was one of the best things I ever did for our family, although I was terrified initially. I don't think I'm smart enough (or have the patience) to teach high schoolers, but there are lots of on-line options. I really think schools should change their schedules so that there is a shorter summer holiday and more two or three week breaks during the rest of the year. We aren't an agrarian society anymore, and that long summer break is unnecessary, in my humble opinion. I've just come to the conclusion that there are some places my girls won't get to see until they're adults. I feel guilty about that because I've carried this list of places they must see around in my head for years, and it's just not going to happen.

For what it's worth, my husband would probably divorce me if I made him go back to Italy in August. We did it once and it was pretty hot and miserable. Austria would probably be fine in August, although I understand about wanting to see the Spanish Riding school and the Lippizans. I read all those Marguerite Henry books too!

My oldest was in band too. Her instructor and your daughter's band instructor must be related! The drop out rate from freshman to senior year is pretty high here! She left after her sophomore year and didn't miss it.
noshdome is offline  
Oct 1st, 2013, 08:50 PM
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As a retired teacher, here's my two cents: traveling is a fabulous educational opportunity; however, teachers are held accountable for a curriculum adopted by their state/district and clearly defined standards must be met by their students. That is a teacher's responsibility. Unfortunately, when a student is absent and an independent study is implemented he/she misses the teaching and lessons that are the instructional core. That is critical to the student's learning and understanding of the subject at hand. Simply completing related assigned paperwork without the core instruction is meaningless and is no substitute for learning in the classroon.

I agree with many others who recommend for you to find a way to take your trips with your children during school vacations. Heaven knows there's more vacation time alloted to students than any job an adult posseses. Be flexible. And enjoy that trip!
catcrazyaf is offline  
Oct 1st, 2013, 09:54 PM
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Dear Kandace - I am sorry this thread turned into an attack on you. In farming, winter or the off season is sometimes the only time to travel. Risky business posting here sometimes. Luckily, you didn't post this in the Lounge!

a farmer's wife, too.
MichelleY is offline  
Oct 1st, 2013, 10:10 PM
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OK, so let's compare the statements in this thread with those in another from the OP ("Critique trip plans, please", posted on Sep 29):

This one: "It's crushing, to me, that teachers cannot see the overwhelming value of kids going abroad"
The other one: "- daughters' must-sees are Europa-Park, Tropical Islands waterpark in Berlin and Neuschwanstein"

This one: "We are a farming family"
The other one: "I work at a zoo, so seeing zoos would be a big plus"

As the daughters' priority seems to be visiting theme parks, there is no reason to assume that this trip has any educational value which warrants taking them off school; and the OP should be aware that her statements could be construed to be contradictory. I second StCirq's and others' statements. Go to Europe, it certainly is worth the while. But do not jeopardize your daughters' education.
Phil is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2013, 12:00 AM
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Geesh Phil. You must have a lot of time on your hands to pick apart Kandace's posts. She works at the zoo and husband farms. I am a banker and my DH farms. We are still farming families. It is not just a job but a way of life.
MichelleY is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2013, 05:08 AM
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Everyone has to make choices in life. I have read all the posts, perhaps some are a bit harsh but there is a degree of inflexibility and entitlement in the OPs posts.

The main hindrance seems to be the demands of the band master/conductor/dictator.

So, a simple choice. Which is more important to you daughters? Band or travel?

Make the choice then move forward, no whining, no regrets.

Our grandchildren live in the UK. It would be great to treat them to low-cost, off season holidays but we believe scool come first. Not to mention UK schools are starting fine parents for taking kids out of school for holidays!
Cathinjoetown is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2013, 05:18 AM
Join Date: Jun 2007
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When our kids were younger, my folks lived in Florida 1500 miles away. We couldn't afford to fly so we'd take an extra day on either side of the week off they'd get in late February and drive down.
The girls are good students, and in our small school it wasn't a big deal. In the abscence note we'd always include whatever historical/educaitnal things we'd seen, 8th Air Force Museum, Eddison's house, Forts, Girls Scouts Founder's house, etc.
When they got older, we'd wait until one of the older ones got out of college in May and could watch the younger one, and the wife and I went off to Europe. Once the older two meet us in Germany where we were stationed, while the youngest stayed at friends.
As demonstrated throughout this thread, everyone has different opinions. My kids have always learned more on vacation than they would have in class. Numerous times my kids have brought in pics of historical sites that we've visited and the teachers have always been happy. Don't know if being retired military helps, we've been to a lot of fascinating historical spots.

So, they're your kids. If it's just a have fun vacation, then eh............if it truly is a chance to change their worldview, and this is your best shot, than have at it.

And me, I'd dump band...sounds like way too much time involved.
bdokeefe is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2013, 05:22 AM
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I'd dump the band teacher
kwren is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2013, 07:13 AM
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SOME parts of Europe are not good August vacation spots (Spain, Portugal, Southern France, Southern Italy, Greece, Turkey). SOME arts have their best weather in August (Scotland, Netherlands, the Baltic countries, Scandinavia, St. Petersburg). The rest can be best described as "bearable" or "not that bad".
bardo1 is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2013, 08:27 AM
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With all due respect Kandace, I am quite sure you and your family are perfectly nice and are very much like many of us here. But your OP does come across with a whiff of entitlement and an attitude about the rigidity of teachers that did not sit right with many people. After reading through all of this, the biggest culprit in your planning seems to be the band teacher and the band program. I am surprised that your fellow parents have not lobbied the school administration for a reasonable period of break time in the summer schedule for the band families.

It does sound like you have only a few more summers of this if your girls are 16. Regardless, choices always have to made, and I still feel strongly that the unavailibility of the horses in Vienna in August should not trump the hoops you must go through with several teachers in their academic program to miss another week of the school year.

Good luck with your planning.
socaltraveler is online now  
Oct 2nd, 2013, 08:32 AM
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Have the kids quit the band and join the orchestra ! Stick to taking vacations during the kids' school holidays so they don't have to do school work during vacations and you don't have to supervise such work !!

a teacher who lived abroad for twenty years
Bedar is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2013, 10:06 AM
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Thanks, everyone. Apologies if I sounded "entitled." That was not my intent. I truly am trying to balance a lot of things, and as I've mentioned several times now, I'm happy to aim for August and just confront the band instructor, in large part because of the reassurances in this post that it's not the near-death-like experience intimated in other places on this forum.

And to Phil ... sigh. Poor Phil.

Kids' must-sees -- name me the teenager who would NOT want to visit the world's largest waterpark or Europe's best-known amusement park. Yes, those are high on their list. That is two days out of 16 or 17. And is Neuschwanstein not educational enough for you? I visited it back in the 1980s and came away having learned quite a bit about German history, geography, architecture and art. Or would you prefer the whole litany of what our daughters want to see *and* what our educational goals are for them through this trip? I'm developing that itinerary with my husband, who is a semi-retired teacher with a master's degree in education, and who I'm quite sure has a better grasp on educating young people than you do. Yes, we are doing two fun things that the girls have heard about. That hardly damns the remaining 15 days.

Farming -- yes, we are a farming family. However, as I'm sure many other people realize, very few families are able to live full-time on a farm without outside employment. So in addition to the farm, both my husband and I work. It means late nights, long hours and back-breaking work pretty much 7/365, sandwiched between our kids' schedules (and yes, our kids work the farm, too -- and one of them works at *another* farm during the summer as well).

Lipizzaners -- there is a HUGE difference between the American-owned Lipizzaners that tour the U.S. and Austria's Lipizzaners at the Spanish Riding School (who come to the U.S. only about every 20 years or so, in select cities, as thanks for American help during WWII -- though I'm sure you knew that already). I find it so odd that some people are quick to substitute one destination for another when they clearly are not subject matter experts in the area and do not seem to know or care much about it.

Again ... peace and tolerance, peeps. And thank you for the constructive comments and suggestions. Much appreciated.
Kandace_York is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2013, 10:20 AM
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" I'm developing that itinerary with my husband, who is a semi-retired teacher with a master's degree in education, and who I'm quite sure has a better grasp on educating young people than you do."

And this, Kandace, is a perfect example of a comment from you that gets you so much negativity in return. Perhaps you are directing this to one person, BUT you have heard from many people who are/were teachers, including me, who not only have a master's degree in education, have taught, raised children and have quite a fine grasp on educating young people. Starting with your slam against your own daughters' teachers who apparently don't get your master plan either, you apparently really don't want any advice, just support for your travel plan. And since it is not coming in positive waves. . . .

And fyi, my own teenagers had no interest in amusement parks when we traveled to Europe, so don't use that card either. Fine if yours do, but many do not.
socaltraveler is online now  
Oct 2nd, 2013, 10:28 AM
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Socaltraveler, I appreciate your comments, and you've given some great advice already. The comment in my last post about "the itinerary" was directed SOLELY toward Phil. Solely. Explicitly. Under the "Poor Phil" segue. It was not intended for you or anyone else. If I could go back and edit my post to add "For Phil only" in front of the two paragraphs about "Kids' must-sees" and "farming," I would.

I have huge respect for teachers, and our daughters have had some *incredible* teachers during their tenure. I have less respect for teachers who humiliate students in front of the class because administrators approved a leave ... or instructors who threaten to fail students for not attending extra-curricular practices that go year-round. But fortunately they are the tiny minority.

My point is that I do not believe Phil is an authority on education. You, as a teacher, would be, and I respect your point of view. Thank you.
Kandace_York is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2013, 10:34 AM
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You're welcome. But do tell me, why is the band teacher's harsh schedule so tolerated in your community? I would think that there are other parents who would like some summer vacation time. We once had to go up against a drama teacher who threatened to remove our son from a play for missing one rehearsal to attend one major track meet, so I do understand the frustration. Luckily for us the administration stepped in and negotiated a truce. Just curious.
socaltraveler is online now  
Oct 2nd, 2013, 01:48 PM
Join Date: Oct 2013
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The band teacher sounds passionate, however, he needs to learn some moderation. If he loses fine musicians due to his inflexibility, he will learn to make exceptions. I understand both sides of this coin. IMO, nobody really cares what your child will learn in Europe. That is a benefit to you and your family. The teachers are too overworked to care. Have a fun time. Staying in hostels is a great place to make friends.
zachem is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2013, 03:30 PM
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I do agree the band teacher's expectations do sound over the top. Have you considered contacting some of the other band parents and seeing if a compromise to the schedule can be reached? I would try a "non attack" approach stating that your children would love to stay in band but also would like some much needed family time and asking if something can be worked out. When my son was in football, the team had two free weeks during the summer so all of the parents arranged vacation schedules around that time. It wasn't ideal but it was something.

I am sorry about my comment about the Lippizaners above -- it was pretty thoughtless. I did see them in Austria and was underwhelmed but then not everyone is impressed with sights I find amazing.
KTtravel is online now  
Oct 2nd, 2013, 04:49 PM
Join Date: Jan 2010
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I quite agree with the person who said the Lippizans that tour the US are not the same Lippizans at the Spanish Riding School. There's a big difference.

As for the band instructor....I can offer this story....Practices seemed to be daily for my oldest daughter for what seemed like months and months. For some reason that I can no longer recall, the band was not able to practice right after school one week, so the kids had to be back on the field at 6 pm for practice until 8. I had two other children who were playing soccer with games or practice twice a week in two different places, hubby was out of town on business all week, and I could not, for the life of me, figure out how to deliver and pick-up three kids at three different spots in our large and rural county. So, I stupidly decided that since oldest daughter had been to band EVERY SINGLE DAY, whereas the other two only had soccer twice a week, oldest daughter would have to skip practice one night. She was fine with that. (Actually, I think she was exhausted.)The band teacher not so much. In fact, HE. WAS. LIVID. WITH. ME. So, Kandace, I sympathize. Thank goodness my other two children never wanted to pursue marching band. I'm still intimidated by that man...

Sorry for straying so far from the original topic. Please let us know what you decide to do regarding your trip.
noshdome is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2013, 07:01 PM
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Thanks. I've decided we will go to Europe in August and I'll just need to confront the band instructor. He is an incredible instructor -- if judged by his natural musical gifts and his dedication to his students. I think he is just very single-minded and does not realize that all the families cannot give up everything else in their lives to be in band. I would think that, as an instructor, *he* would like more time off than he gets, too. Kids can learn a lot from marching band, I just think they need lots of other experiences and opportunities and experiences, too.
Kandace_York is offline  

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