Perfect Attendance Incentive Makes Me Mad

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Manic:  My 11-year old daughter all year long, making sure that she didn’t miss one day of school…until today when the school called me to come and get her because she picked up the stomach flu!

Managed:  Assuring her that even though she would no longer be able to go for the recognition and the prize at the end of the year, her Dad and I are very proud of her efforts….and that it just doesn’t matter as much as the school wants it to matter.  Here is why I say that..

Striving for perfect attendance is a good thing, but enticing the kids with a year-end award just isn’t fair because becoming a victim to the stomach flu is just not a kid’s fault.

And there were other days this year when she dragged herself out of bed, sniffles and all, because she was determined not to miss that incentive that she was sure she could attain.

Well she almost did since the school year finishes up here in May.  Almost!

Until today she hadn’t missed one single day and she also hasn’t been late one single morning.  Even though we live very close to the school, her school’s buses don’t come to our neighborhood, so the daily drive has been our responsibility, and hers, to rise and shine at 6am for a 7am daily departure.  She likes to get there right at 7:15am when the gates open.

I think our elementary schools here in Phoenix start too early.  The middle schools and high schools start later and I think a 7:40am start time is a bit early for Kindergartners and little kids, but I’m not really complaining about that, as you can tell from the title of this article.  Back to my issue…

So at the end of the year, when the kids with perfect attendance are recognized, my girl won’t be named, but she will know that she did everything within her power to be included in that group.  That group of kids will be rewarded for working hard, not taking unnecessary days off and for their perseverance and that is great.

But I think that the word, “lucky” should be also be included on the certificate because they got very lucky that an illness didn’t take them down.  So that is my beef to the schools, reward something that takes 100% hard work and dedication, not an achievement that can be quickly knocked out, after seven months of working towards that goal.  And what about the kids that go to school sick, infecting others, because of that perfect attendance goal?  That is not good for any of us.

So as much as I didn’t like telling her that this specific goal no longer mattered, after supporting it all year long, I chose to go that route because my kid’s health comes first.  Ironically the perfect attendance goal doesn’t work in our imperfect world that has stomach flu germs and other ailments that should encourage kids to want to stay home and get well.

So now that I have vented, I ask you what your opinion is on this topic?  I have been on both ends with a travel hockey player who missed so much school one year that I received letters and phone calls, even though he made all straight As in honors classes.  And then I was on this end this year with a tween girl that wouldn’t miss school no matter what and she ended up sad and disappointed today when her tummy forced her out of the perfect attendance crowd.  I can’t help but feel frustrated for her because she did everything right, but she won’t be included in that group in a few weeks when those kids are rewarded.

And I don’t know this for sure, but I heard through the grapevine that schools get rewarded for overall good attendance, which I’m sure is where this perfect attendance incentive stems from, but I just don’t think it is the best idea when it comes to trying to contain germs and illness.

Weigh in and tell me your opinion.  What is your feeling on this?




  1. I’ve never been a fan of the perfect attendance award because I think it encourages kids to go to school when they’re sick. I agree with you that getting sick is not a choice. I never received a perfect attendance award as a kid because I always got a stomach flu once or twice a year. Don’t feel bad though. At least you didn’t pull her out so you could go on a trip to celebrate your 10 year anniversary like we did. I was actually almost relieved when Andy missed a day because he was sick. It took away some of my guilt.

  2. says:

    Thanks so much for leaving your comment, Bruce. I had heard about the monetary incentives to the school and that makes me frustrated. Oh well! Thank you for your kind compliments about my kiddos. I appreciate that and we miss you back!