My daughter came home with one of these certificates a couple of weeks ago…
Well done, she showed up every day. She’d been fortunate enough to be quite well through all of last term, bar the odd sniffle here and there. Of course, as soon as this arrived she has been jinxed and has had two bouts of illness in the past month.
But here’s the thing, despite obviously hoping that my girl is always healthy and feeling good, I really do not aspire to gain 100% attendance for her. It means absolutely nothing to me.
I want her to enjoy going to school each day, to be making friends, learning, engaging and giving it 100%. A certificate for kindness, for excellent work, for efforts made, those I’d be so very proud of, but this one seems rather pointless.
And there’s the problem for me. I think that because 100% attendance is celebrated, it becomes something to aspire to. Why?
Perhaps this is why a fellow classmate was at school earlier this month boasting that he’d been vomiting that morning but had still made it to school. Ah, well done to him and his parents. It’s great that he is now still on course for his 100% attendance certificate for this term. Maybe he’ll get through the whole year without any absences and get presented with a certificate in assembly, whilst my girl will get no such accolade. As of course this meant that my daughter and at least two other classmates that I know of had an awful weekend and were all off school on the Monday. And who knows who they managed to pass it onto, too.
Bang goes their certificates.
I understand that schools want their pupils to attend, of course they do. I see that they want to discourage unwarranted absences. But when a child is poorly, they should stay away. They need to rest and re-energise so that they are up to a full-on day at school again. They also need to stay away to prevent their germs spreading to others, others who may struggle to bounce back, others who are already unwell, others who simply don’t want to see their plans cancelled due to illness – taking time off work, forfeiting a weekend away, not being able to catch up with friends as arranged, or whatever it may be.
I don’t know whether the certificates, as a symbol of celebrating full attendance are to blame. I don’t know whether the lack of reminders from school about needing to keep kids at home for 24/48 hours after illnesses are a cause, though I think common sense needs to prevail here.
I just know that if my kids are clearly ill, they stay home. They rest. If I know it’s contagious then they are kept away from school and nursery for the required amount of time, as I’d hate to think they’d been the cause of other families getting ill.
I only wish that everyone else felt this way, too, and we stopped jumping up and down about 100% attendance.
Where do you stand on this one?