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THE STATISTICS: Should I Take My Kid's Out Of School To Go On Vacation?

Let's be honest, we've all wondered how our children will end up.

Lawyer, Doctor, or Artist. We've thought about college and making sure both us and the child are prepared for higher academic learning all with the same goal: For them to have successful careers and adulthood.

With that, us as a society have stressed the importance of attendance, AP classes, extra-curriculars, high grades, social clubs, etc... But what if we were wrong? What if what we were trying to achieve, we actually hindered?

Let's take it to William Norman from Clemson University and his Study.

Family Travel is a valuable part of a child’s education that “contributes to cognitive growth and stimulates a child’s sense of wonderment,” says Dr. William Norman, associate professor in parks, recreation and tourism management at Clemson University in South Carolina. “Providing kids with the experience of travel broadens their horizons and opens up their minds to learning.”

Dr. Norman and other researchers used data collected by the U.S. Department of Education as part of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study of the Kindergarten Class database. The database contains information on 21,600 children followed from kindergarten through fifth grades, and looked at children’s early school experiences as well as family and life experiences, such as summer activities.

Researchers could clearly identify a significant link between academic achievement and taking a family vacation:

  • Children who traveled with their families scored higher on academic achievement assessment tests than those who did not travel.

  • The number of days spent on family trips positively affected academic achievement.

  • Children who spent time at museums, historical sites, state parks, and even the zoo and the beach had significantly higher academic achievement scores than those who did not.

In other words, you don’t have to take your family to historic Gettysburg or tour the Louvre. Simply exposing your child to a new environment lets them explore learning informally — and makes them smarter.

Each parent will always do what they believe is best for their child. But what if we challenge the old way of "achievement excellence" culture and let our kids explore? What if while we create memories together as a family, we can also shape our children and give them a more positive academic achievement outcome?

Sounds like a win-win to me.

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