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School absences - any tips for convincing reluctant mom and teachers?

School absences - any tips for convincing reluctant mom and teachers?

Jun 22nd, 2003, 05:58 PM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 150
Take her the the British Museum, British Library, and National Gallery. She will see history that her other classmates will only see in a book--enough said! I have taught for 32 years.
I can't think of a better education.
Good Luck!
HannahHall is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2003, 06:06 PM
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I am truly baffled by some of the responses here. You are talking about 4 days. That's nothing! As we all know, travel is among the greatest educational experiences any person, child or adult, can have.

When we recently took our middle school aged son out of school for a week to travel to Italy, I notified the school in writing, 4-5 weeks in advance of the impending absence. In my letter, I POLITELY asked each teacher, if possible, to provide assignments they anticipated he would miss ASAP, so that he could "make up" his work in advance. This worked very well, as he did do his composition and book work in advance and did his math assignments on the plane. On our return, his math teacher did allow him to make up a missed test on a take home basis with parental supervision. Finally, in addition to regular assignments, his English teacher made him keep a daily journal and asked him to make an oral presentation to the class on his return.

I would never ask the school's permission to take my own child out of school. I would, however, make every effort to ensure that he/she stayed within the established attendance policy. Further, I would NOT call a meeting of all the teachers to confer on the subject. With so many students, I find that teachers' time is limited and I believe that they resent the extra time required to attend the meeting. Also, in a case like this, I believe that there's nothing you can't accomplish in a single correspondence to all teachers.

On a final note, if the child needs a math tutor, get her one! And have a great trip!
Iregeo is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2003, 07:08 PM
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I assume your step-daughter is entering the 9th grade. For math, that's algebra, and if math isn't her cup of tea, she's going to have a nightmare with algebra (speaking from experience!). The drag about that is, you have to keep current on what's being learnt, each day, and do all the homework or you'll get behind, and once that happens, it's really hard to get back on track without extra help. But it can be done, and this trip is just past the middle of the semester, so the teachers will be prepared to help out.

Also, I don't know what she's studying in history in the 9th grade (in Calif., it's a rehash of the 4th grade California history, but more in depth), but I know in 10th grade, they cover World History, INCLUDING the industrial revolution, focusing on England being first in the industrial age. Thus, your trip is VERY current for what she will be learning, especially based in Warwick and London. I don't know what her reading skills are, but now that it's summer, I'd get her a copy of Hard Times by Dickens (one of his thinnest and easiest to read novels!), or if reading isn't one of her passions, the book on tape should be easily found. I was about her age when I read that, and I loved it. It also got me thinking -- about history, about culture, about loneliness, about names like Miss Sparsit and how the characters were so like their names!

Then, when she goes, she will have a keen sense of what happened and the way things are now. There's still lots of soot, but they finally pealed off the grime of the industrial age from Parliament and Westminster Abbey, and she'll probably end up with an "A" in history.
Surfergirl is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2003, 08:02 PM
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If you are absolutely sure the attendance policy won't stand in your way (which it would at my daughter's high school, where five unexcused absences in a quarter result in failure for the class), then I think it is important to stress to the teachers that you don't want to create extra work for them. I have heard teachers complain about thoughtless families who require a whole week's assignments before a family vacation when the teachers would not ordinarily have planned all the assignments ahead of time.
Nikki is online now  
Jun 22nd, 2003, 08:03 PM
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As a retired teacher, I don't think most people realize the extra work this puts on a teacher, not just providing the assignments ahead of time (I used to plan week to week because I was never sure exactly how much of my "great expectations" we would accomplish), but also grading make-up work (it is much easier to grade a bunch at a time because you get in a "zone").

That said, it is wonderful to have a few days to get the assignments together (not the usual: I need the next two weeks assigments in 5 minutes), and in that respect, I agree with you, Iregeo. And it is wonderful to have that make-up work turned in soon after return. (I'm grateful for small things.)

However, I disagree with Iregeo about the teacher conference. I never resented time spent with parents, and it often helped make things really clear. Besides, it showed me that the parents were willing to spend their valuable time, too.

Good luck, Melissa. I hope it gets resolved well. I don't think you will regret meeting with the teachers, and that will also allow you to find out if the absence policy is what your spouse's ex thinks it is (often there is a lot of bluster on the part of the school, which can be taken to heart by the innocents of the world).
LVSue is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2003, 10:12 PM
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I always take my children out for vacation and have had no trouble. First as soon as possible I meet with their teachers and explain the situation and ask how they want it handled. Some say child doesn't have to makeup work, others have child do makeup work before we leave and others have child makeup work upon our return. For some good advice, check out a website devoted to travel called gonamad.com Lauryn Axelrod is an editor there who took her 13 year-old son this past year on an around-the-world trip which meant he missed a year of school. In her adventure notebook, she has a good section on what to do about missed school. I believe there is a link on the gonomad site to her trip reports/adventure book. hope this helps,V.
itsv is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2003, 10:34 PM
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I don't know how old your stepdaughter is but in my experience it makes a difference. We took our son out of school when he was in 4th and 8th grades for a week each time. His teachers agreed to have him do some make up assignments.

But when he attends high school we will not pull him out of school to take any vacation. The subjects are more challenging and missing out on lectures may put him behind. It was easier for him to catch up when he was younger. Also the school has to okay the absence.
francophile03 is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2003, 11:30 PM
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For the sake of showing argument, and don't take this the wrong way, but I do think your attitude is a little condescending towards the mother. Are you really sure there isn't a little power play in your offer? Or in her reluctance?
Why don't you wait until it is convenient to go for you and the daughter and she doesn't have to be taken out of school, as her mother wishes?
You may be a little to smug in wanting her to do what and when you want, when it is her mother who does the daily parenting.
I have been on both sides of the parental coin so I have been there.
SeaUrchin is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2003, 02:58 AM
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Like anything we say here is really going to make a difference on this very complicated issue.
Jun 23rd, 2003, 03:36 AM
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Concrete suggestions for math:
Make an itinerary (a page per day). Make categories, such as mileage, cost of hotel, cost of dinner, admissions prices, temperature high & low, population, etc. Get your husband's daughter to keep these statistics and make the conversions: miles to kilometers, dollars to pounds, farenheit to celsius, etc. Even if you see miles & farenheit, use the other - just for the practice. Don't let her use a calculator until she gets it perfect using old math.
Also let her figure out the payments & conversions for ALL your purchases. In a few days she'll be the expert.
Let her keep an expense account, by day, and make bar or line graphs to show the various expense categories on the various days, and figure out averages and percentages.
Offer to submit this work to the math teacher.
(You may have guessed that my kids do a lot of applied arithmetic on holiday!)
jenviolin is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2003, 04:23 AM
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Has anyone thought to ask for an estimate of how many days this young lady usually misses each year? She may be one of those kids who gets close to the max allowed in an average year, and that's why Mom is concerned. Neither do we know how good she is at staying on top of assignments generally. For some students, making up from a 4-day absence would not be a problem, but some need to be in class every single day with consistent monitoring if they are going to succeed. Just another teacher trying to be devil's advocate. J.
Jun 23rd, 2003, 06:03 AM
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Have you considered hiring a math tutor for your step-daughter? You could start tutoring before the trip in order to help her start off the year with extra help and hopefully, build up her skills. This would then carry over with the assignments she'll miss while on the trip. If the math teacher gives her the assignments before leaving on the trip, the tutor might be able to work with her on these assignments to make sure she knows how to do the work correctly. Also, if you and your husband offered to pay expenses for the tutor, this might help reinforce to the mother that you really want to help your step-daughter do well in school.

The idea for the parents and step-mom to meet with teachers well ahead of time is a good one. Just keep in mind that teachers in high school have SO many students to work with everyday, so when you first meet, the teachers may not be prepared to offer up assignments at that point. Constant communication over the weeks leading up to the trip will be important.

Of course, the school's written policy on absences should be excepted by all of you--no matter if you like it or not. Once everyone is clear on what the policy is, then you'll have a more clear direction in which to proceed.
Lee4 is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2003, 07:00 AM
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Jmw makes an excellent point. If your step-daughter has a history of missing 13 or 14 days a year anyway, another 4 will be cutting it close.

The history/lit aspect of traveling is obvious; for a child struggling with math, you may need to use a little creativity. You don't mention her age, but having her do currency conversions, or inviting her to help monitor the budget might be a good way of practicing math skills while she is away. Hey, it might even get her more interested in math!
Sue_xx_yy is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2003, 08:50 AM
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Just get her assignments ahead of time and make her do them. I really try not to take my kids out of school now that they are older (did it a lot in early elementary years with no ill effects), because it is hard to catch up on missed work. However, if you know ahead of time, you can just get the assignments ahead of time. Some one-to-one work with Dad on the math (provided he can do math) might actually be helpful.

We took my 6th grader out of school 2 days last year, so we could go to Spain--his brother has a longer spring break than he does--and he did fine. He had all his assignments to do and in Social studies, he had to write a report about his trip. His teachers were actually very supportive.
RachelG is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2003, 10:05 AM
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My two cents: let the full time mother decide, and stay out of it. Offer and then back off, you can always go again when the daughter is older.

Gee, isn't it fun to decide other people's intimate problems on Fodors.....
cruelbee is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2003, 10:47 AM
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Hmmm. Anyone bother to ask if the girl wants to go? I mean she is already a mediocre student. What makes everyone think she is going to do all of this extra work everyone is suggesting? Seems like she has a hard enough time without the extra work.

june ng - I cringed too when I read "Prof." Brown's post. I felt like I was reading something written by my elderly grandfather. I don't understand why menton of this woman's race or ethnicity or nationality or whatever "Oriental" refers to was even necessary in the context of the post. Very strange.
Jumbo is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2003, 12:11 PM
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Thanks everyone for your thoughts no matter what side you're on. Thanks itsv for the website...it has given us some info to a math website that may help us help her.

To answer a few questions, yes she DOES want to go and knows that she will have extra work.

We have thought about a tutor and planned to ask the teachers at the meeting what they thought.

She also misses about 5-7 days during a school year for illness, dr/dentist appt, etc.

And to those who wonder why we just have to go during this time...we were given a gift of 7 days lodging that we couldn't afford otherwise during these dates. Additionally, our work schedules and financial situation doesn't allow us to vacation during peak vacation times in Europe.

Finally, we have made the offer, but Mom has the final say. We simply asked that we consult with the school and understand their policies, effects, etc. before the vote was "no". I am only doing research for the trip and for thoughts on whether travel was beneficial for children and could be done without great harm to school work. And if so, how did people accomplish it. I've received many comments both for and against the whole deal. I do appreciate them as they have made us stop and think. Thanks!

Keep the comments flowing!
MelissaH is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2003, 02:14 PM
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I agree with Francopohile. It's a lot different taking kids out in high school. In this day and age of standardized testing, plus the work that has to be completed in order to earn credits, taking time out for vacation adds to the stress - and it is stressful - of being a high school student. The most difficult thing to miss are science lab days, but many teachers have students work in groups at various tasks. If your stepdaughter is involved in that type of arrangement in any of her classes, then you would be putting extra work on the teachers and the other students.

You might also find out when the end of the grading period is.

I find it interesting that your work schedules make it impossible to travel during school vacations. Perhaps you could consider that school is your stepdaughter's work. Also, if she participates in athletics or band, a lot of her vacation time may be taken up with school-related activities or practices.

While most of us who visit this board often are reasonably unfazed by the possible threat of terrorism, it may be one of the reasons why the Mom is reluctant to let her daughter travel.
Barbara is online now  
Jun 23rd, 2003, 03:03 PM
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You certainly have plenty of replys..I did read a few. We took our two teenage children to Europe two summers ago and plan to returen next month. We did have an advantage that they did not and will not miss school. But I can not stress enough the hands on learning both the kids have benefited from. They were able to apply their experiences to their classes at school. (English and History) I would take her, the learning experience will so worth it.
Meg42 is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2003, 03:13 PM
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I am a high school teacher, so I'd like to chime in on this issue.

You stated that your stepdaughter already misses between 5-7 days for illness, etc. Add to that 4 more days for the trip, and (from a teacher's point of view), I'd say that's a lot of absences - especially for a "struggling" student in her first year of high school (Yes, I DO consider B's and C's to be "struggling" - If she had consistent A's, I'd call that "highly capable, and I'd feel more comfortable with these absences)

I'm sure the teachers will work with you - I've done it for countless students myself. But you need to realize - the person who will be doing most of the accomodating and work is the TEACHER, not your step-daughter. If her teachers are any good, they will try to find ways to come up with creative assignments so that she can make best use of her wonderful experience. This will take extra planning and grading time. Again - let me emphasize - that is what I think a good teacher SHOULD do. But you need to be aware of exactly what you are asking.

I really think you're setting a dangerous precedent her with this child. What will you tell her next year when she wants to miss four days for an "extended" spring break trip with her friends? What logic will you use????

Just a thought.
emt is offline  

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