Join Club Momme for exclusive access to giveaways, discounts and more!

Sign up

I’m Pulling My Kids Out of School for Labor Day Weekend

Boy eating water melon beside lake
Photograph by Getty Images/Flickr RM

Boy eating water melon beside lake

Labor Day weekend is traditionally summer's last hurrah, perfect for a camping trip. Unlike Memorial Day weekend (when it still snows occasionally in the Sierras) and Fourth of July (when campgrounds are overrun with hot, irritated tourists) the first weekend of September brings fading temperatures and leaves that are just beginning to change color. There's only problem: My kids started school two weeks ago.

RELATED: I Don't Want to Tweet With Teachers

We've been making this annual camping trip for years now and have learned that if we wait until the afternoon to head out of the Bay Area, the highways are jammed with SUVs loaded down with bikes and barbecues, and we'd be lucky to arrive in the mountains before sundown.

So this year, we're pulling our kids out of class for a day to go on vacation. I admit, the rule-follower in me (which is a big part of me) feels really guilty just typing out those words. Even as an adult, I can count on two hands all the days of school I missed as a kid. In my Taiwanese immigrant family, education was sacrosanct. Only a high fever or some kind of vomiting ailment could keep me home. Skipping class to go camping? Well, okay ... if you want to live in a cardboard box when you grow up.

When one day's worksheet looks just about the same as the day before's, I wonder if there isn't more learning to be had from visiting National Parks and museums.

The first time we took our Kindergartener out of school, my husband and I got into a knock-down, drag-out argument. I accused him of being a slacker. He accused me of being too rigid. I eventually relented, on the condition that he not let my mom know. She found out anyway, and I was wracked with guilt for months.

But over the years, I've realized a typical day's public school curriculum isn't always that educational. When one day's worksheet looks just about the same as the day before's, I wonder if there isn't more learning to be had from visiting National Parks and museums. The turning point for me came when we made a family trip to Taiwan. We had a week off for Spring Break, but that's hardly any time, given the 14-hour plane ride. Our district offers Independent Study when students miss five consecutive days of class, so we decided to spend an extra week traveling, bringing homework with us.

RELATED: I Love a Kid in School Uniform

My kids know the drill now. They told their teachers they would be missing a day of class and got their makeup work ahead of time. As the boys get older, it will get harder to pull them out of school. I probably won't feel so casual about them missing AP Calculus. But for this year, our family is going to enjoy our four-day weekend. After all, doesn't school start after Labor Day?

Explore More: elementary school, middle school, education, holiday
More from kids