I don’t believe I am alone in saying that one of the things I like least about travel are airports—especially during peak periods when students and their families flock south to escape the cold of winter. There are always long line ups, delays and—depending on the weather conditions at home—chaos. My preference is to travel during the school year when both airports and tourist attractions are less attended. The problem with this, of course, is that my daughter will miss days at school. Things are even more complicated now that our older daughter has graduated university and is in the working world. When we want to travel as a family, we need to also consider when she can get time off. Being self-employed has many pros, one of which is that my husband and I can both plan time off work as we wish, so at least that doesn’t have to factor into our equation.
When a good friend approached a teacher to talk about her daughter missing two weeks of school for a trip to Europe, the teacher was actually encouraging. She told my friend what I believe too, which is that depending on where you are vacationing, there’s a whole lot to learn by actually being up close and personal with historical places, monuments, and different cultures and people. Actually seeing the Mona Lisa in The Louvre or standing beside the Eiffel Tower can’t compare to learning about it in History class. This, along with the opportunity to practise one’s French and the exposure to different cultures and traditions, all enriches a child’s life. I realize that not everyone is going to Paris on vacation, but even taking a road trip with one’s family to another part of the country can be eye opening and complements learning at school.
Planning a trip with your children at a time other than when there is a planned break from school is not taken lightly by most parents. There are several factors to consider when doing so. To make your job easier, I’m suggesting the acronym FLAG to help you remember some of the most important considerations when making your decision.
Frequency. How often do you take your child out of school to vacation with you? If it’s infrequent, then your child will likely not fall behind their classmates as a result of your vacation. If, however, they miss school too often as a result of travelling, then your child might get the impression that you don’t believe school is important.
Length. How many days of school will your child be missing? If it’s just a few, then there will be less to catch up on. If they are missing a whole week or more, then this might make catching up more difficult.
Ability. How capable is your child, and more importantly, how capable does your child feel about being able to catch up to the rest of the class upon their return? If they hate missing even one day of school for fear of missing a class, then their anxiety might not be worth the trip. After all, they are the one who has to get caught up.
Grade. Depending on their age and grade, there may be more or less work to catch up on and concepts may be more or less difficult. It stands to reason that missing a few days of kindergarten, for example, may be less problematic than missing a week of grade eight.
Whatever you decide, happy vacationing!
Image of boy in airport from Shutterstock.
With Valentine’s Day and Family Day both just around the corner, you may not only be thinking of ways to say ‘I love you’ to your partner, but to other members of your immediate family too.
Saying ‘I love you’ is not nearly as meaningful if our actions don’t match our words. Showing love takes effort and intention. Combined, words and actions have a powerful effect. So, what are your plans for showing love in February?
Here are some suggestions for showing love all year round:
1. Disconnect from technology. Connect with each other. One way of doing this is to deposit your Blackberry, iPod and any other distracting electronic device in a bowl at your front door. Retrieve when you leave to go out again. Resist the urge to check emails and texts throughout the day, especially while in the company of others. Encourage family members to avoid screens of any sort for specific periods of the day. Giving your undivided attention to the people you love is worth more than money can buy.
2. Do the unexpected. Prepare a snack, make someone you love a cup of tea or bring them breakfast in bed when they least expect it. Clear the dishes in the sink and put a load of laundry in the washer without being asked. Offer to drive your child or partner when he or she is anticipating taking the bus. Don’t wait for an occasion such as Valentine’s Day or a birthday to plan a special event or reserve a table at your favourite restaurant. Include a special ‘thinking of you’ note in a lunch box. Sprinkle rose petals on your bed.
3. Make someone else happy. On occasion, going to see a movie of his choice, even though it’s last on your list, says ‘I love you.’ The same is true for listening to rock music, when you’d rather listen to jazz, for example. Hopefully, this show of love will be reciprocated on another occasion.
4. Schedule family time. As opposed to having each family member off in his or her own corner of the house, doing his or her own thing all the time, make time to sit together as a family over several meals during the week, take time to play a board game or even watch a favourite television show together. This creates a feeling of connectedness. Even though most children would never admit to it, they enjoy the feeling that coming together as family evokes. It’s these times that they will remember fondly when they are on their own.
5. Be playful. When life gets too serious, play hide and seek, wrestle on the floor or skip down the street, arms linked. We’re never too old to let our hair down and to get back in touch with our childlike selves. The times that I’ve gotten into play fighting and tickling matches with my kids are some of my most treasured moments—and it doesn’t have to stop, even between adults.
6. Say hello and goodbye. It’s easy as you rush out the door in the morning to forget to say goodbye. Try to remember. Saying goodbye and offering good wishes for a great day ahead says that you care. When you come back home, take time to connect with your family members. Catch up on the news of the day. If you’re occupied when someone arrives home after some time away, finish what you are doing quickly or stop to enquire how that person is doing. These points of connection are vital.
7. Take care of one another. Massage aching feet, offer a hot water bottle or a blanket when someone you love is cold, run a bath with bubbles and make sure that your family eats nourishing food. These are some of the caring ways to say ‘I love you.’
8. Set clear limits for your children. Even though your children will say that they hate having a curfew and resent having to live by your rules, they inwardly know that the rules you have set are because you care. Asking them to return home at a reasonable time and to live with certain restrictions is your way of saying that you care enough to set clear, loving limits and that you love them enough to make sure that your rules are adhered to.
9. Work as a team. When each family member knows that they have a role to play in making sure that projects get completed and that the home runs smoothly, he or she feels that they are an integral part of the family unit. When you sit down as a family to discuss an upcoming family vacation or a difficulty that the family is facing, and then ask for everyone’s input, you are showing that you love them enough to include them in your discussion and that you value their input.
10. Say ‘I love you’ with conviction. Anyone can say ‘I love you’, but said too often or recited as part of a perfunctory goodbye ritual, these words can sound empty. Instead, cup your partner’s face in your hands, look into his or her eyes and say ‘I love you’ with expression and emotion. Hug your children tight (if they’ll let you) and whisper ‘I love you’. Said at the right time and not over used, these words, combined with acts of caring, will convey their intended special message.
Image of heart from Shutterstock.