When I was in year 12 I had a friend who had never missed a day of school since starting year 7. At graduation, the school gave him an award for perfect attendance and the teachers were all really proud of him. As students we laughed at him and called him names.
At the time it seemed like a very strange thing to be recognised for, but in hindsight I am very impressed.
Perfect attendance – the art of going to school everyday of the year. I’m assuming my friend had the immunity system of Superman to be able to pull that off, as most absences are usually due to being sick. But as I get older I reflect on the reasons I would use to get out of school and can’t help but laugh.
I’m not saying I would make them up, but if I woke up with a runny nose it probably warranted a day off. The difference is that when you finish school and find yourself in the working world, and especially in running a company, it takes a serious life threatening brush with Ebola to warrant a day out of the office and in bed.
My wife tells me that when she was at school her parents would never let her take a day off unless she physically couldn’t get out of bed. She used to get annoyed because her two best friends took so many days off – if it was raining, if they’d had a big night or even if they were feeling emotional.
As my kids grow up I feel I will be much more vigilant about getting them to school every day for the following reasons:
1. It is an excellent foundation for life
I think this is the main one. If I can teach them about dedication and commitment at a young age they will carry that badge of honour through life. Obviously sickness and injuries happen, but the other reasons are usually not good enough to warrant a day at home.
2. For future employers
How good would my friend have looked in his resume with perfect attendance for 6 years of school. As an Employer myself that is something I would look at and be very impressed with.
3. For their academic benefit
As students approach year 12, every class becomes crucial. Missing just one day of school can leave them playing catch up for weeks. One day can be 6 different classes that they will need to cover and teachers don’t always have the time to sit down with them and let them know what they missed.
4. It places higher value on holidays
As it is, students get 12 weeks (at least) of holidays each year. Working hard right up until the final day of term makes holidays that much more rewarding. If they are dotting term with casual days off they will probably find themselves getting bored in the holidays.
5. Children need social interaction
So much happens at school beyond the classroom. They interact with other students, and in doing so find out so much more about themselves. One day of solitude can make it tricky to re-find their place in the social circles of school.
I know it might be tempting to pull them out of school from time to time for any number of reasons, but try to resist. It will make them much better in the future as a result.
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