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I remember coming across an article on this very topic a few years back, and it really got me thinking about this interesting shift in family values relative to educational values. While I'm no expert in the grade school system by any means, I nonetheless felt inspired to weigh in with my thoughts when I stepped back to reflect on my own experiences in primary and middle school.
We oftentimes witness much criticism being hurled at parents or legal guardians and older adults for not reaching out to youth and paying too little attention to their true academic needs. Personally, I believe we're forgetting that young adults can be just as guilty of it. It's unfortunate that YAs like myself seem to be largely out of touch with the current grade school system, and by extension, the younger generation as a whole.
I think it's important for YAs who aren't already parents or legal guardians and were students themselves not too long ago to connect more closely with youth. One of the ways to do this is to share their advice about balancing school and life. In my experience, youth are more likely to relate to millennials who are better able to make sense of changing perspectives they're only just beginning to explore. Thus, we certainly have the potential to explain our opinions to them in a rational yet sympathetic way.
That is precisely what I'd like to try and do here, and I hope it'll encourage other YAs to do the same.
So, family trips during school days: Will they really benefit the student in any way? I'll admit, it was somewhat rare for a student to miss school in favor of a family holiday during my time when there was virtually always something to work on in class. It's quite easy to see why the response would almost immediately be a resounding "no."
Meanwhile, I prefer to keep my specimens under the microscope just a little longer.
In order to dissect a subject properly, we need to consider contextual situations. A good place to start would be the purpose of family holidays. We usually see them as opportunities for families to spend some much-needed time together and to relax from daily stresses in the real world. There's the possibility each family member can only do so much about their own schedule, and certain times of the year are more affordable to take off than others—namely, official school breaks.
Depending on how much time a family plans to take off, the responsibility protocoligorically falls on the student's shoulders to catch up afterwards. This is where parent-teacher-student communication needs to be in full force. Whether the student is struggling in a particular class or the workload itself will become heavier come family takeoff, everyone needs to be aware beforehand of where the student stands and what could be done to assure they are able to complete their work well and in a timely manner. It certainly makes the teacher's job a lot easier as well considering they supervise class sizes of 25+.
More to the point, the student shouldn't have to feel regretful about putting the book down even if their classmates can't necessarily do the same. To share an anecdote: I always struggled with mathematics, and deep down I felt as though I was running away from my problems when I went to Punta Cana and St. Maarten during school days in grades 5 and 6 respectively. The amount of fun I was having increased my inner guilt that much more, especially when I knew I eventually had to go back and face my fears.
I'm sure others have felt similarly, even at that age. But it doesn't mean students don't deserve a break—they just need to work with their parents and teachers toward a compromise.
Recently, some parents and legal guardians have been suggesting more "education-oriented" trips, and I'm inclined to see merit in this idea. Their children will undoubtedly have experiences that cannot be replicated in-class, all the while remaining active in their learning.
That being said, parents and legal guardians, in general, should probably rethink what holidays could mean for them. For instance, if money and time are the issues, I frankly don't see why families can't go on little escapades during weekends here and there to a lake or a farm. Any time spent together, especially if it involves a fun and healthy activity, will always be valuable and something to remember forever. Besides, family time should be as consistent as possible so that the dynamic isn't lost.
You'd also be surprised by the wonders a slight change of pace can do for you. Three days in Ottawa this past winter was all I needed to feel motivated in my career again.
So yes, family trips can be beneficial to students; families just need to evaluate their options and be reasonable in their decision-making. Much like our workers, we want our students to be able to function and socialize in a healthy way. The last thing we need is to overcomplicate that what's supposed to be "stress-free".