Gratuitous Sick Days… When Is It Appropriate to Keep the Kids Home from School?

I was talking with a mom recently at one the Beans’ sports activities and she was expressing frustration over a behavior that is seemingly common here.  Having not experienced it first-hand, I wasn’t sure how prevalent the practice is.  Basically, her experience was that her kids would go to school the day after they returned from a school trip (or otherwise) and find that everyone else stayed home “to rest”.  The classes came to a stand-still with the students who did show up for school either being sent home or having study hall for the entire school day.

The thing that’s pretty surprising about this to me is that the school doesn’t take one of three actions.  First, they could simply tell students who are in the class that took the trip not to come to school.  Second, they could give the students who did show up extra-credit points.  Third, they could teach as if school goes on, because if you don’t tell people not to come to school, then your teachers must be there prepared to teach.  And they need to teach.  This no-man’s land of not acknowledging the practice, but bowing to it seems astonishingly lackadaisical to me.

So, yesterday, we were at the rehearsal for a production the Beans will be taking part in and one of ButterBean’s classmates will also be performing.  It isn’t a school event.  The performance will be fairly late in the evening the night before their exam in their foreign language.  So, the girl’s mom asks me what I’m going to do about the exam.  I replied that probably TetaBean would help her prepare for the exam.  She explained no, she meant because the exam was the day after the performance.  Was I sending ButterBean to school?  Because if I don’t send her to school, then she won’t send her daughter and we can just tell the school to let them make up the exam.

Honestly, my reaction was first puzzlement and then surprise (okay and I was secretly slightly horrified).  I chose to put my daughter in this performance.  I decided, after seeing both the performance schedule exam schedule to keep her in it.  So why would I simply hold her out of school?  Now, had the Mom suggested that we go together to speak with the school and make arrangements in advance, I might have been slightly more amenable.  But to suggest that the school would have to accommodate us if we decided to keep our girl home is definitely foreign to me.  I will say that if the exam were in Arabic, a subject that ButterBean finds very challenging, I likely would be talking with the school about the possibility of rescheduling.

But fundamentally, I don’t get the concept here.  ButterBean has been feeling a bit poorly before on test days.  She went to school, took the test, and then came home.  If it’s not an outright fever or vomiting situation, I definitely check the schedule before deciding not to send one of the Beans.  And while I am all for keeping your kids home in case of illness, keeping them home because they stayed up too late?  What’s next, not sending them after a wedding reception (because yes we see many kids at receptions)?  Will we expect the school to change test days because we have family events?  And don’t most Jordanian kids stay up until 10 or 11 anyway?  For me, the performance STARTS at ButterBean’s bedtime.  But, that’s okay.  It’s one day out of the year and she’ll be just fine.  So, where do you draw the line?

Happy Gratuitous Sick Days!

4 thoughts on “Gratuitous Sick Days… When Is It Appropriate to Keep the Kids Home from School?

  1. This is ridiculous! I’ve not heard of this at my boy’s school, and I do know that the one time I had him home this year – when several kids in the class were sick with a virus that was going around – school didn’t wait for them. There was extra “catch-up” homework, which seemed pretty normal to me.

    The rule I was raised with – and it sounds like you were likely raised the same – was if you don’t have a fever (or are not projectile vomiting or something else pretty serious), you go to school. If you are really sick, be prepared to stay in bed (or on the couch) for the day. If you think you can just stay home and play all day, then you must be well enough to go to school. This keeps kids in school as much as possible, and also discourages fakers. But I never thought this was an American thing, or a cultural thing.

    • Indeed, apparently it may be an American thing? I’m with you, I was surprised and had not heard of it. But, then, I’m pretty out-of-the-loop and a bit oblivious (by choice) about what goes on in other households… And yes, when my kids are home sick, they stay in bed. Sick enough to stay home, too sick to play and have fun.

  2. You have to teach children to manage their time and take responsibility for their actions. I’m tired of seeing adults who play these same games, making excuses for why they can’t do something when it is a direct result of their choices.
    I’d say generally, with exams, sleep is more important than studying. Keep your kids well-rested and knowledgeable of the school material (which you do), and they’ll be fine.

    -Abu Tulip

    • Abu Tulip, I definitely agree. And if you think your child can’t handle it, then bow out gracefully. And, in fact, I agree with you that sleep is the golden nectar that allows our brains to function (as noted in my foggy day post today ;).)

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