Overseas travel with a child in primary school

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As teacher of primary students (5-12yr olds) I can positively say that the beginnings of terms and definitely the year are important and you should try to avoid absences then. I'm not sure about Qld schools, but in NSW the first day of terms 1, 2 and 3 are staff development days, so no student attendance, which gives you a little leeway, but the beginning of term is when new units of work are introduced and new routines may be introduced. It can be difficult and discouraging for students, particularly young ones, to miss this establishment time.
Once daughter gets older and obviously school is more important
I'm not sure why you think later years are more important. The early years are when children learn the basics, educationally, organisationally and socially and develop a strong basis to support them through later learning. The first 2-3 years are the most important and regular attendance can make a real difference and the coughulative effect of regular absences can be very detrimental to learning.
I agree that children learn in places other than school and that travel can be educational, but I'd also ask you to think about the hidden message you are delivering to your daughter about the importance of education when you say that it is all right to miss school for a few weeks a year to go on holidays. Children form their attitudes from their parents and if you don't value a good education, nor will she.
 

JohnK

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Since you asked, it's tacky, polluted, crowded and full of creepy sex tourists.

In fairness, my visit was pre-covid, it may have changed?

I personally found it awful and wouldn't dream of taking my young kids there. There are so many nicer places in this world to visit. If the only drawcard is food, there's plenty of places with fantastic food. Singapore hawker markets, nearly any Izakaya in Japan, Korea, Taiwan...



There are reasons a place is cheaper.
Really? Full of sex tourists?

Do you go there often? Just a few points which may not be relevant to everyone

- has the best night-life in Thailand
- has the best street food in Thailand
- has the cheapest (and best variety, quality) Western food in Thailand
- has the best organised golf in Thailand

I've been to coughet, Pattaya, Bangkok, Kanchanaburi and Chiang Mai. There's a sex scene in all of them. These are also full of "sleazy" people as you call them.

I have a feeling though that a few dumb stories of paedophiles have altered your opinion of what is a wonderful holiday destination.

These "sleazy" people are human beings. That they are 50+, 60+, 70+ or whatever and choose to spend time with Thai ladies does not make them sleazy. Even if they go with multiple Thai ladies does not make them sleazy. They are normal people. I've played golf with them. I've had a drink with them. People don't listen to their stories, their heartbreak, before passing judgement.

By the way a man going to Thailand for 2 weeks and picking up 4-5 bar girls is sleazy right? But a young man or young girl at university in Brisbane getting drunk and going out all night to Fortitude Valley night clubs doing drugs and having casual sex is acceptable right?

For what it's worth Thai ladies do not consider what they're doing is sleazy. They're doing it because they are not educated and have a need for money. The majority of them have had kids while in school and no education. Many of them have been raped by brothers friends, relatives or others in village.

Let's not judge what people do without fully understanding.

Pattaya is by far the best holiday destination in Thailand. If you want to take your family elsewhere that is fine. My Thai wife and daughter both love Pattaya.
 
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As teacher of primary students (5-12yr olds) I can positively say that the beginnings of terms and definitely the year are important and you should try to avoid absences then. I'm not sure about Qld schools, but in NSW the first day of terms 1, 2 and 3 are staff development days, so no student attendance, which gives you a little leeway, but the beginning of term is when new units of work are introduced and new routines may be introduced. It can be difficult and discouraging for students, particularly young ones, to miss this establishment time.

I'm not sure why you think later years are more important. The early years are when children learn the basics, educationally, organisationally and socially and develop a strong basis to support them through later learning. The first 2-3 years are the most important and regular attendance can make a real difference and the coughulative effect of regular absences can be very detrimental to learning.
I agree that children learn in places other than school and that travel can be educational, but I'd also ask you to think about the hidden message you are delivering to your daughter about the importance of education when you say that it is all right to miss school for a few weeks a year to go on holidays. Children form their attitudes from their parents and if you don't value a good education, nor will she.
As a former principal and teacher all my life and nearing retirement, I strongly support the points made by SuePa. Students have approximately three months vacation time. Time at school is precious. No work the teacher could set for you to take could take the place of quality face-to-face teaching. I have always valued the experiences students have been offered by overseas travel but repeated and prolonged absences from school would be counterproductive. The habits and learning experienced in the early years truly are foundational for successive years. In course of this thread you have already reconsidered some of your proposals. I encourage you to continue to do so.

Certainly when in Thailand get her using baht, speaking Thai and English, drawing and writing about her experiences, communicating with friends back in Australia, constructing things, cooking, measuring, dancing, puppet plays, singing, play8ng a range of games.
 

JohnK

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I'm not sure why you think later years are more important. The early years are when children learn the basics, educationally, organisationally and socially and develop a strong basis to support them through later learning. The first 2-3 years are the most important and regular attendance can make a real difference and the coughulative effect of regular absences can be very detrimental to learning.
I agree that children learn in places other than school and that travel can be educational, but I'd also ask you to think about the hidden message you are delivering to your daughter about the importance of education when you say that it is all right to miss school for a few weeks a year to go on holidays. Children form their attitudes from their parents and if you don't value a good education, nor will she.
Nice post and I don't disagree with what you are saying but I need to make decisions and not everyone will think I am making the right decision.

I need to consider my daughter but I also need to consider the mental health of my wife and to a lesser extent me as I am the one working full time. My wife started getting homesick just before the 12 month mark. It was very hard on her and I'm not putting her through the same thing again.

For the time being forget Christmas as a family overseas holiday. Makes no sense to holiday in Thailand at this time of the year. 3 exhorbitant airfares and accommodation that goes through the roof.

That leaves April, July, September. From my point of view it makes sense to plan for April and September.

Arrive Thailand evening 18 March and return from Thailand on 16 April is $300 more expensive. I gives us 27 days in Thailand not including travel days. Daughter misses last 2 weeks of first term. Stuck in Brisbane on 25 April Anzac Day and working from home an day off I really do not need.

Arrive Thailand evening 25 March and return from Thailand 25 April. Thus gives us 29 days in Thailand not including travel days. Airfares for 3 are the cheapest right now at $2625. Daughter misses 5 days end of term and 6 days beginning of term.

I suspect September will be similar.

I don't want to holiday alone and they can't be here alone for any length of time.

I had plans before that wife and daughter can go 6-7 weeks end of year to stay in our house and that may well be the case in future years but I don't want to go 2 weeks just to stay in our house. The village is not that exciting.

Note I cannot afford airfares 4 times a year to ensure that daughter does not miss school.

Personally I think daughter will be just fine. I'm not sure she will get the wrong message from these trips.

By the way nothing is set in concrete but I will need to book soon. May just go and have a casual word to her prep teachers and school principal.
 

Katie

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We centred most of our travel with then Little Miss around school holidays. There were a few holidays in the early years where we had an additional week or so that encroached into term (never term 1, but mostly because that's not when Mr Katie prefers to take family time off). The most amount of time we've taken her out of school was in grade 6 when she missed the first two weeks of term 2. School were OK with it, we weren't given any particular schoolwork, but we spent most of that time visiting WWI sites and were able to go into various aspects of European and WWI history with her.

You may well need to adjust your strategy as your daughter grows. You may discover that your preferred timings to pay the least and extract the most out of your leave may not work for your daughter's learning and routine. I could not have predicted what my child would be like now when they were in Prep, and I am now being surprised by things that my Teen cannot cope with, that they could cope with when they were younger. This may not be the case for you, but just as you had to change your travels when you married and when you became a family of three, what might work for the next year or two may not work in four years' time.
 

Seat0B

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I'm another vote for being present at the start of the term, and if you need time off, then taking it at the end of the term instead.

Another thing I found is that often the high airfares for the school holidays settle down a bit if you wait a couple of days. So for example, if you try to leave on the first Friday, Saturday, Sunday or Monday of the holidays, that costs more than leaving on the first Tuesday or Wednesday. Even leaving 2 days before the holidays can often be cheaper because most people wait until the holidays have started.
 

Happy Dude

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The net is awash with blogs about travelling with children for extended periods. Most are rather banal, brag-fests, quite frankly. But they're all also very self-congratulatory ("Should have started living our best lives sooner!!") and full of unqualified, self-justification particularly on the topic of kids education. To a tee, they all believe their kids are learning so much more about life and the world, than they would at school.

And I know families that have taken whole terms, semesters or even years off to travel or work, be it in Australia or OS. I planning to be one myself next year as I have long service leave and a lot of annual leave accrued. My two closest friends both took up overseas postings for 1 and 3 years, in Sweden and Peru respectively, when their kids were in school and they adjusted to life back here very well, ie are excelling in school, sports and social circles.

You're only talking four weeks, spread over the course of a year. I wouldn't think twice.

There's some terrific advice from educators and the experienced here, particularly regarding timing, that I've noted. Chat to your daughters teachers and principal and find ways to plug any gaps in learning and mitigate any social issues.
 

Matt_01

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We used to alternate our plans each year, one year travel was limited to the 2 week holiday period normally in the April and September and trips were planned on what we could do/see in those 2 weeks, grouping into countries nearby and a simple flight. Some examples include 2 weeks in Japan, 1 week HKG/1 week PEK, 1 week SIN/1 week KUL and a few other variations. We have no issues in going back to the same country more than once. In the other year we would go to the other side of the world and would take her out of school for up to 2 week at the end of term 1 or term 3 but we would only travel international once in that year and any other trips would be domestic. The flight length, changes in time zones, cost, potential jet lag needed to be taken into consideration and for us was not worth the time, effort cost to go to the other side of the world for 2 week. In her last year of primary school we did take her out for a week during week 2 or 3 which was no issue as she already new the kids in her class and the teacher. We only did this as we wanted to go to the Harbin Ice festival and Sapporo snow festival so the dates when these were on dictated when we would travel.

She is now in high school yr 9 and we will do a 4 week trip this year and that will most likely be the last for a while. It also seems to be the most sensible option as at any one time there are a number of kids sent home to isolate and Covid spreads through the school. The first of the 2 week trips for 2023 is booked and the second is yet to be booked. It will be to EU and most likely a France as she as been asking for a while to go there.
 
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My daughter missed a lot of school from Year 5 onwards due to sport.

Winter was basically the whole term 3 away from school and in high school missing part of Term 1

Nearly got to the Winter Olympics.

While competing at Lake Placid NY, did the Charles Sturt University entrance interview via Skype. Got accepted into her first choice and now about to graduate.

So to an extent it also depends on the child. Some are able, while some can’t. There are no easy answers.

For what it’s worth @JohnK, as a parent, the considerations are multidimensional and complicated, but just as valid as the number of school days missed
 
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Sprucegoose

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Ok fair enough. That wasn't clear at all in the first post, it reads more like they are going on holiday rather than visiting relatives etc. There was also the mention that they were open to going "somewhere else".

Context is everything. In terms of not visiting places, there are few places that are not potentially enriching, but ultimately you cannot hold back the tide. Experience is everything which is why we travel for leisure.
 

JohnK

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For what it’s worth @JohnK, as a parent, the considerations are multifactorial and complicated, but just as valid as the number of school days missed
I know it's a silly cliche but life was never meant to be easy.

We change. Our thoughts change. Our goals change. Our plans change.

I don't want to ruin my daughter's life but if school is anything like it was when I went to school she will not miss a lot in the early years if she misses a few weeks here and there.

Assuming my daughter finishes year 12 I will be close to 71 and if she goes university then I'll be 75 years old. I think by then my travel days will be over. I struggle to walk now and it's not getting any better. Ankylosing spondylitis and curved spine aren't easy but I'm getting off topic.

We're building house in Thailand. The land is quite big. Wife has fruit trees around the perimeter. I want find Jacarandas to plant in each corner.

I need to landscape 2 gardens. One for flowers and one for vegetables. That is my job. I'm not hiring anyone. I've never done it but now is the time to start.

Above ground swimming pool. BBQ.

So many other small things that need doing. We also have another block nearby and I want to get rid of the weeds and then buy some top quality soil so we can grow more fruit and vegetables. When we're not there mother in law can have the crops.

We'll go with first trip next April and take it from there with each trip. We'll see how she handles school. If she is anything like her dad she'll pick things up quickly of what she's missed. If not then we revise the plan. Nothing is set in concrete.
 
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There are so many nicer places in this world to visit
Travelling to visit only the nice places makes one insular and uninformed about the world and the human condition.

Basically like the one dimensional insta influencers who only visit places that are picture perfect.

We are all guilty to varying degrees
 
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offshore171

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Travelling to visit only the nice places makes

That's not what I said. I've travelled to plenty of pretty ordinary places, such as some of the less salubrious parts of Asia and Africa, and even soviet era Eastern Europe.

But Pattaya beach is the only place where I actually couldn't wait to get out. I found it truly awful.

As I mentioned, everyone has different tastes, and YMMV. In my case, it was my biggest ever travel mistake. Here's the background.

Airline offered a cheap layover package at Pattaya for 2-3 nights on long hauls via BKK, and we went with it, and didn't do much research on the joint. Got there and found a really tacky and polluted town with sex tourists everywhere. I'm sorry but this is just something I find revolting and dystopian (again - personal opinion). My mistake for not doing enough research - but at the time there wasn't any Tripadvisor and similar sites, or they were in their infancy.

My encounter was well before covid (early 2000's I think) and maybe it's improved?
 
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drron

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@JohnK I am on your side. We did sometimes take our son out of school and felt he learn;t a lot from his travels.
However just 2 comments. You said your daughter can't read. I hope you are regularly reading to her. From about 6 months of age I would read to my son. Even if i hadn't finished work I came home and read 1 or 2 books then back to work to finish. He has done this with his children and now getting to teen years they are still reading a lot.

Second I must again come to the defence of Malcolm Fraser. His speech writer never forgave him as he was meant to say life wasn't meant to be easy but it can be enjoyable. Based on a quote in a G B Shaw play-
"Life is not meant to be easy, my child; but take courage: it can be delightful."
I got to know his Principal speech writer very well as he retired to the Sunshine coast.
 

JohnK

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My encounter was well before covid (early 2000's I think) and maybe it's improved?
I've been going to Pattaya since 2003 and I really do not see what you see.

I see lots of organised golf, plenty of western restaurants, Thai street food, western street food, markets everywhere you look. Oh and there's a sex scene that's gradually pushed out past Second Road to Soi Buakhow and even Third Road and if tourism picks up and is successful it may even get pushed out to Sukhumvit Highway.

I'm stunned that all you saw was sex tourists.

Define sex tourists? My first 2 visits to Pattaya were for work and then a visit to Bangkok for work. Went back to Pattaya twice after to spend time with my then Thai girlfriend and discovered golf. I was hooked. A few failed relationships along the way, 1st time marriage at 51, first child at 52. What more could I ask?

By the way I've lost count but I've easily been to Thailand 70-80 times with most of those visits including Pattaya. I'm not a sex tourist am I?

My friend is 64 years old and he plays golf and he's now retired in Thailand. He lived in Pattaya, then Jomtien and now built a house out Ban Chang way. He's been with a Thai caddie for the past 5-6 years. Sex tourists?

Another friend is 74. He's been with a Thai lady 15 years. He has made so many friends there that there's usually a decent size group at the Aussie bar drinking and telling yarns. Sex tourists?

The guy that used to own the golf bar where I play golf came to Thailand nearly 30 years ago with GBP 2000 and he built a successful business that's still going today. He passed away a few years ago. Sex tourist?

Pattaya can be a very lovely place if you know where to go.
 

MattA

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Interesting thread. Just adding my 2c: as per my trip report — 2 months, 2 kids, 2 continents (technically) — am currently on an extended trip to Europe with my 8yo and 3yo. 8yo is in Grade 2 and will miss 6 weeks of school for this trip (3 weeks at end of term 2 and 3 at start of term 3). We didn’t take the decision lightly to take her out of school but decided the experience and the opportunity to spend time with her UK-based grandparents was worth it.

If I could offer one piece of advice it would be to talk to the teachers/principal and get them on side early. Our school were very supportive and supplied us with lots of worksheets, which we have been doing throughout the trip. She is also writing a diary and practicing her French (she attends a school with lots of French-expats and a bilingual English/French programme). E.g she has been coming with me to buy the croissants and does the ordering, plus for example when she wrote a postcard back to the school class she bought the card herself in Paris and later when we went to a post office to buy the stamp she did the talking—anything we can do to work the learning into daily life, I guess.

It also helps I think that’s she’s really settled at the school with a good group of friends and we’re confident she’ll slot right back in when we get back. I hadn’t thought about the point about the importance of not missing the start of the year but that makes sense to me.

I think ultimately only you as the parents can make the decision about what is right for your family, but personally on balance I think the experience and opportunity of travel trumps a few days or weeks of missed school. (Of course bear in mind that you have asked this question on a travel forum; we may not be a representative sample of opinion!)
 

lovestotravel

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Please don't judge me but looking for some thoughts.

Travel has opened up again but finances are not what they used to be so need to restrict travel to 2 trips to Thailand a year. The plan is the trips will be 3-4 weeks duration to maximise time spent holidaying but for the next 3-4 years that will come at a cost.

I was going to plan the trips for April and October school holidays but checking airfares for April next year and apart from SQ they are nothing short of ridiculous. So I've been looking at January and they are actually reasonable so we'll travel January and July.

My daughter started prep this year and went to school for 4-5 weeks and will not be back until the last term this year. So she will miss quite a bit of school. Not a huge inconvenience but she will be quite a way behind her classmates when she returns. She still can't read.

Plans going forward will be each trip will start 1 week before school holidays start and return 1 week after school holidays have ended.

Is this likely to have a huge effect on daughter missing a couple weeks of school twice a year? We will ask teacher for homework if possible and daughter can catch up overseas.

The way it's looking for first trip next year is daughter will miss first 2 weeks, possibly 3 weeks.

On the other hand she'll continue to have experiences that other kids only dream about. At nearly 6 years old she has taken more flights than most adults take in a lifetime and she has stayed in more hotels than most adults will stay in a lifetime.

Daughter loves flying. Daughter loves hotels. She will be doing something she enjoys.

Please don't judge me but I still want to travel but don't want to travel without my family. Obviously when she goes to high school we need to rethink the strategy but it's so difficult to get around the expensive airfares during school holidays.

I've only skim read the other replies so sorry if it's been said.

Missing the first day or week of Term 1 is best avoided, but that being said our one, will be missing the first day of Grade 3. Coming back from Europe in January is $$ and for the 4 of us it was going to cost $4,000 extra to get back for the first day of Term 1, so sadly she will miss it.

Our other child is stating Prep next year, but as they start a week later than the rest of the school he will be there for day 1.

Who know what is going to happen in the future, missing a few days and weeks of school is not going to impact them that much, with the exception of Grades 10-12 IMO.

Holidays, travel, hotels, languages and learning new cultures are some of the best learning experiences there are.

Our kids will be missing at least 5 weeks of school and daycare over the next 6 months with all the travel booked.

Our 7 year old can't wait to go back to Noosa for swimming, the beach and the walks, she will remember bits and pieces of these holidays for years, but won't remember a thing from school.
 

JohnK

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Second I must again come to the defence of Malcolm Fraser. His speech writer never forgave him as he was meant to say life wasn't meant to be easy but it can be enjoyable. Based on a quote in a G B Shaw play-
"Life is not meant to be easy, my child; but take courage: it can be delightful."
I got to know his Principal speech writer very well as he retired to the Sunshine coast.
I'm not sure I would say delightful but yes this simulation is unique. Well at least I hope the simulation is unique and we're not repeating the same simulation. But that would be better than a parallel world not knowing which is the original.

I agree with your points. I do read to her and she knows how to recognise quite a few words. She's now learning to write Thai and she's doing OK. Her spoken Thai is now very good and I feel left out as my Thai is very average.

Some very good experiences in this thread. I wouldn't want to ask outside a frequent flyer forum as most people I know don't travel.
 

Xrayspice

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My parents took us to Disney land when I was in year 10, and I missed two weeks of school. I still remember that trip, and missing school did not impact my year. I would have no issues taking my 5 year old on extended holidays, but missing the start of the year is not ideal, as you don’t want your daughter missing out on the friend forming weeks. My boy makes friends easily, but not every kid is like that, and if groups are already solid, it would be much harder and more isolating for her.
 

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