Taking your kids out of school for non-health related reasons

I always tell my kids that their job is school. It is their job to learn and do their best at the lessons taught. Because I believe school is important, we try not to have them miss school.

I am a firm believer that if they aren’t really sick, then they need to be at school. If they aren’t running a fever (over 100) or throwing up, they are going to school. The one time I relented to this rule, I regretted it.

Of course, there are also doctor or dentist appointments to consider. We try to make those after school but that isn’t always possible, so I try to make them later in the school day, so they don’t miss too much. (School may start at 7:30 am but they have to be in class at 9:30 am to be counted for the day. Even if they come in later than that, they are still marked as absent.)

I know quite a few parents who have no qualms about taking their kids out of school for any reason – vacation, mental health day or whatever. Yes, places like Disney World are less busy during the school year, but I would feel too guilty taking my kids out for a week. There is no amount of makeup work that can replace actually being there.

Jase and Lexie on the tall slide.

Jase and Lexie on the tall slide at the rodeo.

Now, I must admit that I have taken the kids out for some not medical reasons. The last time was just two and a half weeks ago. Every year, San Antonio has a Stock Show & Rodeo in February.  This is a two-week event featuring not just a rodeo and agricultural exhibits but major singers nightly and a carnival.

We don’t typically go to the rodeo though it is very popular (read crowded). I took the kids when Jase was 6 and Lexie was 3 for what they call Dollar Days. Admission, all carnival rides and some foods only cost $1 on these days. Two years later, I took them again and then again this year.

The best way to beat those crowds on these discount days is to go early so I have taken the kids out of school around 11 am (or during the first year just waited until Jase was out of his pre-K class).

Lexie watching baby chicks hatch.

Lexie watching baby chicks hatch.

It isn’t all riding rides. We do some of the other kid activities and check out the petting zoo. I hope that some of it is at least educational for them. It at least lets them see another side of life if nothing else.

This is only one afternoon every other year, so I don’t feel too bad about taking them out. Last year, they also missed a day in the spring. My husband had a conference at South Padre Island, so we went up the weekend before. Since it is a 5-hour drive, we decided the kids and I would just drive back on Monday. But I knew the kids didn’t have any tests or major activities happening that day, so I felt fine with our decision.

And Jase missed the last day of school the first three years of elementary school. But then again, all the teaching is over by then, and we were going on vacation, so I didn’t feel bad at all about this.

As the kids advance in school, I actually expect it to be harder to feel okay with taking them out of school for a day here or there. Yes, there are some things like doctor’s appointments but most of their time is best spent in school learning.

Taking the kids to the rodeo

CIMG2410I took the kids to the San Antonio Rodeo in February. For those of you not from here, every year San Antonio hosts a large indoor stock show and rodeo for three weeks every February. In fact, it has been named the Large Indoor Rodeo of the Year for nine consecutive years. Yes, it is a big deal here.

We don’t typically go to the rodeo. My husband and I went once years ago because it was required by his law firm. We had dinner, attended the rodeo and stayed for the concert. I can’t even remember who played that evening. It was okay but not really our thing.

I took the kids three years ago when they were 5 and 2. Every Friday is discount day – admission, rides and some snacks are just a $1 each. This is about the only way that I am willing to go as the rodeo isn’t cheap.

When I last took them, it was easy since Lexie wasn’t in school and at the time Jase was in a half-day preschool program. Now, they are both in elementary school. Our school district frowns on people taking their kids out for vacations or things like the rodeo. But I decided it wouldn’t be a bad thing to pick them up early one Friday and hit the carnival at the rodeo.

The kids had a blast. They each got 10 ride tickets. Two do them were used on a huge slide, and three were used on the fun houses. It was interesting to see them switch from some milder rides to those a little wilder. Lexie was disappointed to find out she was 2 inches too short for a few rides they wanted to do. But they had a good time.

CIMG2408We also went to the petting zoo which had llamas, pigs, goats, sheep and deer. Then, there was the kids’ farming area where they earned a bandana and a yogurt drink for completing a series of farming stations.

We didn’t get to see any mutton-busting, bronco riding or barrel races. Those activities are not included in the Dollar Days. I don’t know if the kids would be excited to see that part of the rodeo or not. Given Lexie’s allergies and the amount of dust, dirt and other allergens, the rodeo is probably not the best place for her. Even with an extra dose of antihistamine, she itched something fierce at bedtime.

Overall, I think it was worth missing an hour and half of school. The kids were able to see some livestock and learn information on farming in addition to the fun of the carnival. Only the hour trip through rush-hour traffic on our way home would make me pause about doing this again next year.