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2017 Eclipse Blog / FAQ



Should I take my kids out of school to see the total eclipse?

Many schools are going to be in session on August 21, and if your kid goes to one that is NOT in the path, you might want to think about taking them out of school to see totality.

Not sure that you want to do that?  We understand.  But consider this personal message, from the webmaster of eclipse2017.org:


I am not a teacher, though I hold a High School Math teacher’s license.  (The classroom is just too tough a place for me!)  But I have been a private tutor for 26 years, and I have three kids of my own, who I would like to think have been raised to be the best they can be, while respecting the system that has allowed them to achieve their fullest potential.  (My youngest daughter has been accepted into Engineering School at Purdue, and none of my kids has ever done anything that I would consider terrible – so my wife and I consider ourselves truly and absolutely blessed beyond measure.)

I have always believed that we are our children’s first and best teachers, and that the public education system is only an extension of what we ourselves would be doing for the kids in our communities – if we only had the experience, knowledge, education, and time.  That is what we pay teachers to do, and we as a society are more than fortunate that we have VERY special individuals who are willing and able to do this MOST important job.  Many people do not understand the unique difficulties that teachers face on a daily basis – but those of us who do, DO!

Respect for the system, for authority, and for society’s established constructs is one of the lessons we must teach (and model in our own behaviors) incessantly, and it is important to set a positive example to ensure that our kids learn what they need to know in order to function in society, and to contribute positively.  That lesson can never be undermined, because adherence to it is the glue that literally holds our society together.

But as parents, there are times when we need to step in and respectfully exert our authority as our children’s first and best educators.  Those times are few and far between, and should always be undertaken with discussion, cooperation, and mutual respect.  But when they are called for, no substitute can serve.

A total eclipse is one of those times.

As an educator, a parent, and as someone who has seen 12 total eclipses, I can think of nothing more amazing on this Earth that would warrant taking my kids out of school to go see with them and my wife, as a family.  The experience of totality is overwhelming to the point of complete emotional and intellectual saturation, and is life-changing.  Many eclipse chasers in their 50s and 60s remember a time so long ago, when their parents took them to see totality – and they can still close their eyes, return to the time they were 7, and remember the experience in their minds.  For them, their parents became [even greater] heroes for them on that day, and there is no trip to mouseland or a kids’ pizza place that can ever hope to compare to this.  Total eclipses are rare, they are stunning, they are beautiful beyond description, and there is no way to overstate the experience that a family can have together, bonded by what they experience in the path.

Whatever these kids might miss in school on that day, they can make up.  Whatever they see in the path that day, they will never ever forget.  The scales are tipped irrevocably in favor of the adventure, the surprise, the promise, the majesty that IS totality.

So, go see the total eclipse… and take a kid with you!  I promise you, they’ll never forget it!

-Dan McGlaun
eclipse2017.org

41 Responses to “Should I take my kids out of school to see the total eclipse?”

  1. Kelly says:

    And even if the school they go to is in the path of totality, odds are that instead of being out viewing the eclipse the school will have the kids inside away from the windows because of the liability risk of kids possibly not using proper protection, and thus what you wrote would still apply.

  2. Lisa Haynes says:

    I am a teacher in Florida, and not only am I taking mySELF out of school, I am most definitely taking my 11 year old out of school to take a road trip to South Carolina, with my husband, sister (also a teacher), and of course our dog … ha!
    I have a twinge of guilt about leaving my students, but otherwise I am ecstatic and can’t wait, and my reasoning is this: I can’t imagine that the experience any one of us (meaning my family and I) would have in our typical ‘day to days’ would be something that we would remember down the road like this one will be collectively. Life is about moments, and we are looking forward to this moment as a family.
    That is my two cents, thought I would share- as a teacher, I encourage and celebrate family time, especially if it is providing a unique and educational opportunity.

    • Admin says:

      I could not agree with you more. Hopefully, some parents will follow suit and have their kids with them – in the path!

      Dan

    • Admin says:

      Lisa – Awesome. Please share the story of your eclipse adventure on our Eclipse Memories page, after the eclipse is over!
      Dan

    • Judy says:

      I am also a teacher (science), and am fortunate that this eclipse falls during our summer break. This will only be my 5th eclipse (I feel lacking!!), and all when I was a child were over summer breaks so I haven’t had to face this dilemma. However, I would not hesitate in taking the day off myself nor in pulling a child from school to witness this amazing event. When the eclipse comes in April 2024, I hope to offer a field trip for the students at our school, as we are not quite in the path.

  3. Scott says:

    I just offered to my kids to take them out of school and travel to nebraska to experience this. We debated about missing school etc and we tabled the idea which brought me here. Nuff said. Decision been made. Plymouth, nebraska here we come.

  4. Janette says:

    I’m flying from SW Texas to Portland, Oregon to witness the eclipse!

    • Admin says:

      Awesome! We’re glad you found a place to stay! Make sure to be in the path, and have a GREAT eclipse!

      Dan

  5. Karen says:

    I am so excited to live and work in the path of totality. I have invited friends and family from out of state, and am getting everyone at work excited too. I will be ordering a bunch of glasses from this website in about a week. Happy and safe viewing everyone!

  6. Chuck says:

    A good school would be *thrilled* to have the kids take a day or two off to experience something so profound. good teachers would allow the kids to do the makeup work with no penalty.

  7. Terri Correnti says:

    I cannot wait for this eclipse! I am taking my 9 year old grandson out of school that day and we are going to head to Hillsboro Mo. To experience this incredible sight together. This is truly going to be an experience he will not forget and he will have that memory of sharing this moment with me when I’m gone.

    • Admin says:

      Terri –

      If everyone would read your post, a lot more people would have the experience of their lives on eclipse day. You have hit it spot on!

      Dan

  8. Shannon says:

    I agree, the event is once in a lifetime. It teaches kids that science is important, that nature is important, and that family do important things together. Simple but powerful stuff. Our kids start school at the beginning of September, so they won’t be in school yet, but we are travelling from Canada down to KY to view the totality, making it a family summer roadtrip.

  9. Cathy Holloway says:

    Dan, would you mind if I took an excerpt of your post and cut and pasted it to Facebook? I have a couple friends who live less than 2 hours from “totality” who say they’d like to see it, but “have” to work that day and some with kids in school, also very close to the path.

    • Admin says:

      Cathy –

      You give them the link – and tell them I said so. On our deathbeds, we never ever say “I wish I’d spent more time at work”. Their kids will tell THEIR grandkids about the time their parents took them to this.

      Tell them to go to this page (part of our Eclipse Roundtable). Listen to as much as you want, but go to the bottom and hear what Kelly Beatty had to say:

      http://www.eclipse2017.org/roundtable/topic4.php

      Then, just go do it!

      Dan

  10. Aldo Cugnini says:

    I would definitely take them out of school — and one better, if the school is in the eclipse path, why not organize an on-site student event? There’s a great educator’s guide at https://eclipse.aas.org/sites/eclipse.aas.org/files/Russo-White-Paper-Community-Eclipse-Planning.pdf.

  11. Richard Clem says:

    In fairness, school will not be in session here in Minnesota, but here’s one data point.

    I’m a substitute teacher, and toward the end of the school year (and at the one school that was in session during July), I asked the kids whether they had heard about the eclipse. And not a single one of them had! I talked about it, showed them some pictures, and showed them my eclipse glasses.

    Not all of them were interested, but some of the kids got it and realized that something really cool was going to happen. But their teachers hadn’t told them about it. Perhaps their teachers didn’t even know about it. I went so far as to tell the kids to talk to their parents about maybe going to Nebraska for vacation this year. I’m hoping one or two of them got it.

    Again, school won’t be in session here. But based upon my observation that the kids here hadn’t even heard about it, I wouldn’t count on other schools, even ones in the path of totality, making the most of it. In fact, I’ve read about one school just ten miles away from totality, where they are purposely going to re-schedule recess to make sure kids aren’t outside during the eclipse!

    In short, unless you know to an absolute certainty that your kid’s school is going to make the most of this experience, then you owe it to your kids to do better.

    I have more information at my blog about why you should take your kids to see the eclipse, even if it means missing school:

    http://onetuberadio.com/2017/07/26/take-your-kids-to-see-the-eclipse/

  12. JENNIFER MCCUTCHEN says:

    I am the Director of Instructional Technology of a school district in Georgia. I am excited to say, we have developed curriculum for all students, k-12, leading up to the eclipse AND our district has graciously purchased quality safety glasses (following ISO standards)for all students, teachers and staff to view the eclipse under supervision. I think it is our job as educators to take these once in a lifetime opportunities to connect relevant and rigorous work in the classroom into real world experiences. What an opportunity! I can’t wait to see the expression on our students faces!

  13. Linda Tolladay says:

    I’m an elementary science academic coach for a 20,000 student district in central California. We are not in the path of totality, or near enough for going to really be a consideration for most of our families (high poverty district, folks mostly are not traveling at all). Our district purchased eclipse glasses for all of our 5th grade students and I’ve done inservice training on lessons they can so about how eclipses happen over the course of the week before the eclipse (we begin Aug 14).

    If you have a kid who will be in school the day of the eclipse, consider purchasing a class set of eclipse glasses and going to school to talk to the teacher about the eclipse.

  14. lacey says:

    We are in south Louisiana. Our kids will miss three days. Taking them to Tennessee. We just cant miss this.

  15. Charles Gliha says:

    Definitely take the kids definitely DO NOT take the pets (any more than you’d take pets to fireworks).
    They’ll freak out and you’ll spend the 2-3 precious moments of totality pet-sittng. Not fair to the pets, you, or your family.

  16. Barb says:

    Bummer! I live in Denver, CO. So close and so far away. Both my granddaughters will be in school. We can’t head north this year to view the eclipse in totality but I’m going to put my glasses on and watch what I can. Would it be worth my granddaughters time to be out of school for this? CU Boulder is saying we will have 93 % totality here.

  17. Amy says:

    My kids start school next week and I will notify the teachers of our plans to miss school to travel to see the eclipse. I am hoping they will be able to make up work without penalty, but regardless we will go. I have never seen a total eclipse, but I have a feeling that if I passed up this opportunity I would regret it for the rest of my life. Now I’m just hoping for clear skies!

  18. Roger says:

    Well said Dan. I was with you at another eclipse (Egypt) and am also planning to see this one in August 2017. It is an education in itself to experience totality. Hope many can do so, this year, across the USA – as well as others visiting your home country on this occasion, for the same reason!

  19. Anthony says:

    Also a teacher- taking personal leave time from school to go up to Oregon from Southern California with my 7th grade daughter that just returned to school this week and my wife to see totality. Last time, we drove to southern Utah to see the annular eclipse and are hooked on seeing the beauty and grandness of The sky’s above, during the night and day as well. One thing that surprised all of us was the sense of scale and movement one gets for the sun, moon and Earth while watching an eclipse, I definitely agree with other parents on this one- also as a teacher – it’s something that we can share with our children while teaching them some of the most important lessons they can ever learn about family and the natural world around us.

  20. Jennifer says:

    We started school last week and I talked to my kids’ teachers about the trip we are taking from Central Florida to Nashville to see the eclipse and all of their teachers were very excited for us and have bonus activities for them to do while the eclipse is happening. Mostly documenting their observations whether it’s photographing, drawing, or writing on what they observed so they can share it with the class when they got back with no penalty for other makeup work. The school district is having a live feed into the classrooms since it is during the last period of class so the kids can see the eclipse. Very happy to see that the schools are encouraging students to experience this for themselves!

  21. Lacy says:

    I am the mom of a 9, 8, and 7 year old from Louisiana. My family will be heading to Tennessee for this experience and educational event. Other children will be learning about it while we are there. First hand learning leads to enthuasim.

  22. Jennifer says:

    My 9 yr old just started a new school (left public school system because I was tired of public schools thinking that they were the main decision maker for my kids) 3 days ago. I wasn’t going to go because I didn’t want him to start off the new year by missing 2 days. I asked his teacher what he would miss at school if I took him out these 2 days and she said “not nearly as much as he would miss if he didn’t go with you. We will be spending the whole day talking about eclipses, but no lesson plan I do will be nearly as educational or memorable as experiencing it firsthand with his mom”. I have a feeling I am really going to like this school and this teacher!!! Happy viewing everyone!

  23. Stephen Tilford says:

    Dan I actually went one further and took my kids out of school for the first of a pair transits of Venus. Now brother that is super rare and it is something they will take through life with them!

    • Admin says:

      You are correct. Another one of those will not happen for a LONG time! Their great-great-grandkids might have to read their stories…

  24. Jeff Spain says:

    I have 1 child in 10th grade and 1 child in 8th grade here in Franklin, TN. We are taking our kids over to Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro. MTSU is one of the sites partnering with NASA. There will lectures, music, tours, telescopes, etc. We are going to use this unique opportunity to have a family outing along with a great day of learning. Plus, we are going to tour their entire science department. Getting our kids on a college campus is always good to focus them on their educational futures and career options. it will be a great family memory as well.

  25. Kristin Brown says:

    Thank you for your great website! We live in Central Florida and were debating on taking our 7 year old son out of school and making the trip to South Carolina to be on the center line of the Path of Totality. Your website tipped the scales for us! We were so excited for our adventure, and boy did Santee, SC deliver!!! The weather was perfect and we had an absolutely amazing experience viewing the stunningly beautiful total eclipse! You are so right that no lesson plan could ever compare to the experience of this truly amazing event. We have now become bona fide eclipse chasers thanks to your site!!!

    • Admin says:

      The fact that all this work made the difference for one 7-year-old boy made it all worth it. Best compliment I could possibly have. I’m so glad you did it!!!

      Clear Skies,
      Dan

  26. Nice Post i like this very much

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