Playing hooky for a day here and there can teach kids valuable life lessons, says Nancy Cardwell, a professor at the Bank Street College of Education in New York City. Some skip-worthy situations:
1. You're being good citizens Volunteering with his parents -- be it working at a soup kitchen or visiting a nursing home -- provides your child hands-on learning about giving back to his community.
2. You want to show off your kid at work Whether they come with you on Take Your Child to Work Day or another date, kids gain a lot from a little on-the-job training. They'll watch you use academic skills like math, reading, and writing to get things done, and will see time management and delegation in action.
3. You need a vacation You found a great price on a flight and hotel, but it's not during one of your kid's scheduled times off. If you're not doing it every month (who besides the Jolie-Pitt clan does, anyway?) and she's missing only a couple of days, don't pass up an opportunity to spend quality family time together. Plus, almost any trip can be turned into a learning vacation: Give your child an allowance to spend on snacks and souvenirs (math), encourage her to keep a vacation journal (writing), or simply bring along books she can read on the beach.
4. Your kid is stressed/sad/overwhelmed/all of the above Like adults, "children can't do their best work when under tremendous duress and stress," Cardwell says. Pick up your child post-recess -- as an unexpected surprise -- and take him for a one-on-one chat at a baseball game or late-lunch date. "It can create a quiet moment for parents to tell stories about their own struggles and how they navigated their way through," Cardwell says. And after all, everyone needs a mental health day now and then.