The open road vs book-learnin’ – what’s best for kids?


There are all kinds of education, and travelling young can be amongst the best. But is it fair to disrupt your children’s school life to take them on the road?

In the hippie(ish) 70s it was relatively common for parents to pull kids from school, often for months at a time, to give them experience of the world. Even if your parents weren’t the type to pack you into the Winnebago for a cross-country odyssey or whisk you off to savour an Italian spring, chances were you missed school for the odd week or even the occasional summer to join your family on holiday.


In the more conservative 80s and 90s, interrupting a child’s schooling became less acceptable. But are the times a-changin’ back?

With airlines and hotels duking it out to fill off-season seats and beds, parents are being tempted by a deluge of term-time travel bargains. And some parents are biting. In both England and Australia (where yanking your kids out of class for such frivolous reasons is technically illegal), the increasing number of travel truancies is kindling debate about the pros and cons of replacing the school room with the road.


Folk who cherish childhood travel memories may find themselves leaning towards the ‘wandering the pyramids trumps times tables!’ view of things…and you can always do some book learnin’ on the road, right? (I actually learnt a few of my later times tables in a horse-drawn caravan.) Conversely, anyone who’s come back from a family holiday to find they’ve missed out on crucial class-time and even more crucial class bonding may disagree.

But I still remember those horses and that caravan. And my times tables.


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