Sunday 25 September 2016

When holidays become a dilemma for families

Published 11/04/2014 | 02:30

IN the schoolroom of life, there are seldom easy answers. Each year, many parents face a dilemma – do I take the children out of school early, so that I can avail of a cheaper holiday in the sun, or do I respect education and the school ethos and grin and risk missing out on a holiday altogether because it's too expensive or pay the high peak-season price?

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A survey has shown that 32pc of parents admit to taking their children out of school early for a bargain holiday, while another 21pc were "very tempted" to follow such a course in order to save money. It's not surprising really, as the years of austerity have made families far more aware of the teachers' old adage to "count the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves".

It goes without saying that parents would be bordering on the irresponsible to remove students in Junior or Leaving Certificate year, no matter how important the holiday might seem.

It should, of course, be borne in mind that Irish schoolchildren have some of the longest holidays in the developed world and it is important that education is taken seriously. Teachers have spoken of the disruption that this 'holiday truancy' can cause, both for the classroom and the pupils when they return, having missed days or weeks of teaching.

On the other hand, if it is only a day or two, parents who can save a couple of hundred euro on a family holiday may have a valid point. Every family needs its leisure time, either at home or abroad.

The late Jonathan Philbin Bowman advocated periodically taking a child out of school to experience the wonder of life outside the confines of the classroom. Parents who do take their children out of school for a cheap holiday might think of doing at least one thing that is educational/cultural during their holiday to make amends and teach their children that there is more to a holiday than the swimming pool and sundowners.

Irish Independent

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