San Diego Moms: Time to Ditch the Outdated Perfect Attendance Rewards

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Photo by Lucelia Ribeiro/Flickr

Let’s cut to the chase here – not all children have the ability to attend school every day. There are daily events beyond our control that can prevent this from happening. So why do schools still award perfect attendance awards?

I am not denouncing any child who can go to school every day – which means that there are no obstacles in their life that would prevent them from going to school, such as illness, problems family, etc. But I wonder how far we push the children.

After all, children have an average of six to 10 colds a year, so why would you send a sick child to school? What about COVID-19? Personally, I would not send my child to school knowing that they are COVID-19 positive.

There are also mental health considerations, especially due to the pandemic. The CDC reported that one in five children had a mental disorder, but only about 20% of those children received care from a mental health provider. Imagine the seriousness of a child’s health if he is under pressure to also have perfect attendance at school.

Here’s another reality: working harder doesn’t equate to working smarter.

It’s what we’ve learned in our working lives, and it’s why more and more companies are implementing perks like work-life balance programs, personal coaches, and unlimited paid time off. . Unfortunately, these opportunities have not translated to our children, who are told by schools that going to school every day means receiving a prize.

Scientific research also proves that perfect attendance rewards are not effective.

In a controlled study by Harvard researchers, perfect attendance awards actually backfired. Researchers studied more than 15,000 students and found that: Students who received a perfect attendance award “believed they attended school more than their classmates – and attended school more what their school expected of them. So receiving the award seems to have left them feeling empowered to miss more days of school in the future.

Academically low-performing students “missed a third more days on average” than their high-performing peers.

The researchers suggested that greater communication with parents may help improve attendance rather than perfect attendance rewards.

In addition to communication, let’s teach our children that they don’t have to be superhuman to be perfect. Instead, praise the children who tell us when they need a break, who have overcome a major obstacle in their life to get to school, or who have helped their peers. Self-help, perseverance and compassion are all important qualities.

Let’s get rid of perfect attendance awards and offer praise where it really matters and where it really helps development.

San Diego Moms is published every Saturday. Do you have a story idea? Email [email protected] and follow her on Instagram at @hoawritessd.

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