Is it ever ok for a child to be ‘left out’ at school? I’m not talking about playground politics or friendship groups breaking down I’m referring to children being left out of special events, trips and celebrations at school. We all want our children to be included, and it’s never a nice thought that our child might be left out of something. This is especially true when it’s something exciting and fun but is there ever cause and reason that is justified? After a recent event at Henry’s school, I’ve been contemplating the answer to this, and I wonder if you agree.
Before the children broke up for school, there was a lot of buzz on social media around children being penalised for not having 100% attendance. Some schools even arranged school trips, which were exclusive for those that had a clean attendance record for the year. Now don’t get me wrong attendance is absolutely important and we always try for 100%, but kids get ill, and I don’t really feel it’s fair to penalise children for something they cannot help.
Henry had three days off this year. Two were due to sickness bugs which both times he caught from school. He had to wait the correct amount of days before returning to school to prevent passing this on. The third was an allergic reaction to some sunscreen which saw his face swollen up like a chipmunk. In fairness, I still planned on sending him into school as he was fit and well other than the swelling, but the doctor advised he should stay at home and be monitored which was actually the correct choice.
Don’t get me wrong some parents just let their kids have days off here and there because they want an easy day or they get up late. I once knew a woman who let her kids stay off school every Friday for a month – that was until the attendance officer stepped in.
I appreciate entirely parents that take holidays in term time too. I’ve done it myself before. The cost between term time and the holidays can be so significant that it can be the difference between affording a holiday and not.
This isn’t about whether parents should allow their children to be off school or not, I am a firm believer in the parent having the right to choose within reason. The fact of the matter, though is whether children should be penalised for lack of attendance and my answer on this one is a yes and a no. I think if the absence was due to illness, then this cannot be helped; however, if it was due to any other reason, I feel that penalising them is fair.
Should A Child Be Left Out
Our school celebrate attendance, but children aren’t really left out as I have seen in some schools. In fact, it was an event entirely different to this that got me questioning whether a child should be left out or not and it falls down to behaviour. Henry’s school work on a traffic light-style system where each day they are rewarded with “smileys’ for behaving appropriately. If a pupil does not follow the school rules, they risk losing their smileys for the day and can be moved down to amber or red. Of course, children will move down as that is part of learning and growing. The smileys they collect each day go towards a term tally, and when they receive 100 smileys, they get a bronze certificate, 200 a silver certificate and 300 a gold certificate. Once the whole class reaches bronze, they have a party to celebrate, and the same goes for silver. At the end of the year, there is a huge gold party which lasts the whole day and only children that get their gold award get to attend.
Not About Punishment, it’s About Reward
I think it’s important to remember that leaving a child out because they haven’t earned their reward isn’t about punishment; it’s about rewarding those that did. Perhaps it’s easier for me to say that when my child achieved but I think it is fair. Each child receives two smileys per day they attend school. If they follow the school rules and behave, they keep their smileys. This means that one bad day won’t ruin the chances of achieving in the end, but too many bad days will.
I wasn’t sure about the system at first, but it works well, and it encourages the children to stay on track while also being transparent, so it’s clear what they need to do to achieve and easy for each pupil to follow. Several parents felt this system was unfair, and it felt like their children were being left out of the gold party. Although I could empathise, these were the same children that misbehaved consistently often disrupting the learning for others. The children that did manage to behave and follow the rules should be rewarded, and it would ultimately devalue the system if everyone were included anyway regardless of their behaviour.
Now don’t get me wrong I am incredibly lucky that my child is easy. He behaves and knows the importance of following the rules. He isn’t one to test boundaries, and I understand and appreciate that isn’t the same for all children. That’s why I think it’s more important to praise the excellent behaviour than punish the bad. It really isn’t about punishing those that haven’t achieved it’s about celebrating those who have!
What do you think? Is it ok to have a reward system that can see a child being left out?
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