Overseas travel for children: Assist or Hinder their education?

It was recently reported that the NSW Department of Education will crack down on family holidays during the school term. They claim that missing days of school to go on holiday is detrimental to a student’s academic performance.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, most of our members disagree with this claim. Firstly, most agree that the educational value of most overseas trips far outweighs the loss from missing a week or two of school. They say that experiencing new cultures and languages, and learning about history makes for great life experience.

We are taking the mini Colsters to Europe for five weeks in September, and no one will convince me that visiting Gaudi’s works in Barcelona, the Roman Forum, Colloseum, St Peters, the Lourve, Mussee’d’Orsay, Natural History Museum, Greenwich Naval Museum, Edinburgh Castle is less of an educational experience than a couple of weeks of year 4.

Although there are four sets of school holidays per year, there are a few problems with travelling during these set times. The two weeks given for school holidays are not enough time for a complete trip to Europe or North America. The northern hemisphere summer is the most popular time to travel to Europe, but two weeks is not nearly enough time to see everything, nor to get good value out of the cost of the airfares.

Have taken our children out of school regularly since we moved to Australia. The only long holidays is Christmas, which I certainly can’t take more than once in a blue moon.It is just not feasible to visit family in Europe for a sub-16 day trip, let alone the expense and the undesirable weather at that time of year. Thankfully all Australian schools have been fine so far for less than 2 weeks at end of term.

Thirdly, the price of airfares and a range of other things increase dramatically during peak times such as school holidays. Often families can save thousands of dollars by travelling during the school term.

We’re taking our high school age kids (not yet seniors) out of school for the last week (plus a couple of days) of Term 2 (June). All this blather from the schools threatening all sorts of guff holds no water with us. Kids learn more from overseas travel than they ever will in a classroom full of disruptive students and bored teachers…

…I’m sure most people on here have taken kids out of school to go overseas. The deciding factor for us was the airfares. We’d have paid several thousand dollars more to leave just two days later!

A number of teachers have also chimed into the discussion. They opine that generally speaking, missing a few days at the end of a term is okay but students may struggle to catch up if they miss extended periods of school regularly. They also say that they agree there is often more value in the experience of overseas travel, compared to being at school. But this is not necessarily the case if the family holiday consists of sitting around a pool in Bali!

Have your say HERE.

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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]