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When Children Are Not in the Classroom

September 22, 2002

Re "Schoolwork in the Balance," Sept. 8:

After reading the article by Elizabeth Triana, I began to reflect upon the family vacations I shared with my parents as well as those that we share with our children today--those typical of occasions which Triana referred to as "parent-sponsored truancies."

I considered her points of independent-study contracts not replacing peer discussion or an unplanned "teachable moment" being missed or a revelation that results in a personal connection to the material. Valid as these points may be, is that all there is to a child's education?

In reality, a wide variety of educational experiences contribute to a child's knowledge, growth and development. Every day there are hundreds of children who leave school early to participate in school sports, clubs and other extracurricular activities. Are these school-sponsored truancies? I think not.

Learning consists of more than information obtainable in a book or classroom. The process is ongoing and extends well beyond the four walls of school. Through extracurricular activities and experiences, horizons are broadened, curiosities are piqued, perspective is attained and hopefully a well-balanced child develops into a well-balanced young adult.

In our increasingly hectic lives of two working parents and extremely busy schedules, how fortunate some children are to be able to take a family vacation, enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime or family-bonding experience.

What better way to build the foundation of a child's life, the content of his or her character and strengthen family ties than to share significant moments, even if by happenstance they fall during the school year?

Do I think that because "surf's up" or "we got fresh powder last night," it's OK to ditch school? Absolutely not. Are there occasions when missing school for a special event should be OK? I think so. Schoolwork in balance, family life in balance; that's what being well rounded is all about.

Cindy Beck

Rancho Santa Margarita

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