Yesterday my kindergartner was feeling a little blue about saying goodbye to mommy and going off to school. So, she didn't. Instead, we spent the day enjoying the outdoors and just being together. We did a little shopping, had lunch, and cuddled and talked. It was a day of fun and special one-on-one time for my daughter and me, which is essential in a a big family like ours (I have four kids!). And I won't apologise that she skipped school, no matter how taboo some parents and teachers feel it is. In fact, I feel it's super important to let children play hooky at least one day a year.
She's being reminded that life is about more than just test scores and perfect attendance. Balance matters. Family matters. Fun matters. Knowing their mom is always there for them matters.
Firstly, I firmly believe all people, whether they're 3 or 30, need a break from the monotony and pressures of their daily routines. Yes, my daughter is only 5, but in her world, being away from mommy is tough, and often creates anxiety. By Friday, she's usually exhausted from her long days at school, and ready for the weekend. This week, she just got a 3-dayer.
I allow all my children to have a mommy-and-me day every year. It's not typically planned; instead, I'll surprise them with a day off from traditional education on a morning I sense they're dragging. Maybe they were up late doing homework, and desperately need a day to recoup. Perhaps a certain subject or social situation has been particularly stressful lately. That's when it's usually time to let the kids cash in on their day of fun. And you better believe their spirits are immediately lifted!
I think these days are best when they aren't super-scheduled. I ask them what they feel like doing. We might hit the mall or go to the beach. Maybe we go to a favourite restaurant for breakfast, then explore a new exhibit at the zoo. Or it could be home, cleaning out a closet, making cookies, and just being together.
My child may be absent from her desk on this day, but she's learning, whether it's because we are talking through a problem or observing people and things around us. She's also being reminded that life is about more than just test scores and perfect attendance. Balance matters. Family matters. Fun matters. Knowing their mom is always there for them matters.
It's not that I don't value my kids' educations. Nothing could be further from the truth! My husband and I place great importance on doing well in school. And if my children were truly struggling in school, and I felt a day away would be to their detriment, I wouldn't pull them out. Sure, they may have some catch-up work to do, but I help them make time for that and all is good.
To anyone who says it's wrong to let kids skip school for a day of fun because it teaches them that being irresponsible is OK, I would say that I haven't found that to be true at all. The responsible thing to do is listen to your body or your heart when it's saying, "You need a break." The responsible thing to do is to look at the big picture, and how missing one day of school is hardly a big deal when you consider what a real problem looks like. The responsible thing to do is to carve out special time so your child knows they're more important than schedules.
I hope one day my kids will look back on these fun days fondly, and remember that spontaneity can sometimes provide much-needed comfort among chaos. And know that it's always OK to take a day off from life.