Mari's Moments

High seas education on Disney Magic

Unfortunately, most of the affordable cruise dates happen during the school year, which could be a predicament if your children attend Texas schools.

You may have heard of some extreme cases in which families have had to go to court for going on vacation or the extreme case in which a Houston honor student was jailed for too many absences.

In Texas, a student who skips or arrives late 10 or more days within a six-month period or three or more days within a month is in violation of state truancy laws.

In 2013, the Disney Cruise Line will offer shorter stints out of Galveston that will help families plan weekend trips, a sea-cation if you will.

However, if you do a little homework, you can make the cruise experience affordable and educational for your children without breaking any laws.

First, check with your school district on its policy for excused absences. Some districts will allow a note from a parent BEFORE absences are considered unexcused. Parents have 72 hours to provide this written excuse. Also, check your child's attendance record with the front office to ensure you are below the 10-day threshold.

During the cruise, there are plenty of creative ways to continue your child's education. Here are some tips:

School work

Don't be hesitant to contact your child's teacher(s) to get any school assignments or homework that can be done during the vacation period. If you set aside an hour or two a day during the cruise to do school work, your child won't be at risk of being behind when he or she returns to school. Teachers could even assign cruise-related topics (Ex: Essay on cruise experience; Math assignment on ship's dimensions, etc.) On Disney Magic, the Promenade Lounge was the place where students gathered to do their work in the morning.

Getting connected

If your school assigns work electronically, the Promenade Lounge is also the perfect place to sit with a laptop. It's next to The Internet Cafe so if you purchased an internet package, you would be able to sit in a far corner and work without distraction. If you don't want to bring your electronic devices, there are plenty of computers available to log into. Note: Network connection was best when the ship was in port and sketchy at sea so you might want to do your paper work at sea and computer work at port. My husband and 11-year-old also took advantage of cheaper connection rates by taking a trip to an internet cafe in Costa Maya.

Creative assignments

Whether your kids are home-schooled or attend a school, there are plenty of educational opportunities on board. The kids clubs provide daily activities that apply to math, science, reading etc. You could also bring schooling to sailing by coming up with creative assignments. Here are some examples:

Learning about cultures: Each crew member has the name of their country of origin on his or her name tag. Students can try to find as many different countries and ask the crew member to tell them how to say hello in his or her native language.

Flat Stanley Floats: The Flat Stanley project is perfect for international travel and a great way for children to document the trip.

How high is that? Get your thinking caps on and come up with math or science questions related to the trip and have the family answer the questions together. Ex: How tall is the ship? How deep is the Gulf of Mexico? At what rate of speed does the ship have to travel to get to Cozumel in 24 hours?

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