Monday, March 30, 2015

An Early Winter Calls For An Early (Spring) Break

So we've been discussing the pros and cons of traveling over the traditional Spring Break week slated by the school schedule.  I've never been one to color within the lines, so, let’s see what happens when you take the kids out of school for vacation: I will use my family as an example.  

Concierge Service with private check in and UNLIMITED goodies for the kids!

Conquering fears through SCUBA certification!
Bartering for braids on the beach
with Miss Lady Pink Hat
I have two in Elementary and one in High School. This year with 2:3 kids having access to homework on their iPads and the 3rd grader getting a pass to, "go have fun, we'll catch up later", we did!  With a two hour commute to Minneapolis and four hours on the airplane to Turks & Caicos, they had plenty of time to get in their required reading minutes.  While out shopping at the local market, they were able to use not only social skills but math skills while they bartered and made change.  They journaled and wrote postcards to Grandmas.  I have to admit, they probably got in more Phy Ed then they do in a month between snorkeling, walking the beach, jumping the waves, swimming, beach volleyball, pickup basketball games and more!  And the lesson I'm most proud of is the one they learned while getting certified as SCUBA divers: how to conquer your fears!  Once they learned how to breath like fish, down they went to explore under the sea like Nemo.  Down there they saw dolphins, turtles, coral reef, variety of sharks and much other squirmy sea life that would've sent me to the top like a cork but not them - they continued to breath, explore and take mental and digital pictures of their findings.  To experience this through the eyes of my 12 year old, click here!  They learned about being responsible and independence through access of walkie talkies and curfews.  Dad even slipped a talk in there about boys before our preteen went out to the beach party.  All in all, after a week of absence, the only subject to be “made up” was band practice.  And although they weren't graded on their subjects they were doing without a lesson plan or in the classroom setting, I give them all an A+.  Not because they’re my kids, but because I have seen how they've been stretched and grew from being immersed in real life experiences.

They say the world is a book and those who don't travel only read one page.  How many chapters do you want to read with your family before your kids are grown and gone? 

Need help planning your perfect family vacation but don't know where to start?  Like what you've read here but don't have the time or connections to duplicate this experience?  I'd love to help!  Give me call or schedule your FREE 30 minute vacation consultation here!  I can design your dream vacation that you will cherish for years to come without you even lifting a finger!  Chat soon!  ~Jennifer 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Do You Need a (Spring) Break?

Spring Break - while for many it means that coveted week to celebrate the end of finals and even their first real trip without parents, Girls Gone Wild style pool parties and even partying until the sun comes up!  But for many more it signifies the few weeks between Fat Tuesday and Easter Monday: Prime Travel Time.  The rates are high and the occupancy levels are even higher.  But for some families, they simply can't fathom the idea of pulling their kids out of school or perhaps they themselves work for the school and they have no other option.  Either way, the question is, "Do you go on Spring Break or not?"

If you cannot imagine a week without relief from Mother Nature and her dirty little tricks called wind-chill factors, blizzard conditions and Sahara desert like humidity levels, then this answer is an unequivocal, YES.  But more specifically, do you go when your kids are out?  I polled a variety of parents, teachers and even principals on this via email and facebook.  Not surprisingly, all involved with the school asked to remain anonymous, but what I was most surprised by was the different viewpoints.  Let me share:
While the parents believe in a good education and the importance of attendance, they also realize in elementary years, the flexibility is there vs later during High School years.  However, with many schools using iPads, as long as there is a wifi connection, kids can still stay connected and keep up with homework from afar.  This allows families to exit virtually any time of the year without much concern aside from the big testing days like MAP & SAT.   When I polled the elementary teachers, they all said that family vacations were more important than whatever lesson may be on the books that week.  On the other hand, High School teachers tended to be a little stricter, stating the importance of being present since many of the lessons weren't found in a book rather, taught in class.  In fact, the toughest I found were the coaches!  If the kids were gone and missed try outs or even practice, they were eliminated from games or even the team.  Wowsers!  

The consensus was this: The time spent bonding with family traveling and learning another language, skill or simply being together sans daily commitments like appointments, deadlines and electronics is more important and something that could never be taught in class.  In addition, it's therapeutic.  Most kids today are overscheduled, don't eat dinner as a family regularly and really don't even know how to "play".  Having time to pick seashells, meet new friends from a different culture, try new foods, wear a new hairstyle (thanks to Lady Pink Hat) or simply cuddle in the room after sleeping in is not only necessary in today's American culture but priceless.

Tell us, where was your last Spring Break vacation?  Did you pull the kids out of school to avoid the crowds or stick with the traditional week off? In our next blog, we'll share with you one family's nontraditional Spring Break experience.