PARENTS

Mum Won't Let Son Accept 100% Attendance Reward At School Because It Sends The Wrong Message To Kids

'Attendance awards can demonise the weakest.'

05/07/2017 10:43 BST | Updated 05/07/2017 10:57 BST

A mum prompted a discussion among parents after writing a Facebook post about why her son will not accept his 100% attendance reward at school.

Rachel Wright, from the UK, listed four reasons as to why, as a parent, she felt it was wrong that children were rewarded for not having time off school.

Her son - JJ, 11, - was told he would be rewarded with an evening at a soft play centre with his friends due to his attendance record.

The mum, who blogs at Born At The Right Time, wrote on Facebook on Friday 30 June: “We love it when school reward him but he won’t be going [to soft play].” 

Wright continued by explaining her four reasons: “1) We don’t reward luck. In this family we will think of as many reasons possible to praise our children. We will celebrate and reward them, but being lucky enough not to get sick is not one of them.

“2) 100% attendance awards can demonise the weakest. In this family you are not shamed for ill health, vulnerability or weakness. 

“3) He had no control over his 100% attendance. In this family you don’t take praise for something you didn’t do. He had no control over his attendance. I took him to school and it would have been my decision to keep him off. 

“4) We are taking him out of school for five days at the end of term. In this family we value school and work but we also know the importance of making memories and having rest. So our son will finish his school year one week early and go to Italy instead class parties, watching films and playing.”

Wright said she doesn’t think attendance awards teach children the right message about value and worth.

She argued that there must be a better way of helping families and children who don’t go to school for “non-genuine” reasons.

“The messages we are sending to our kids when we reward attendance is wrong,” she added. 

Klaus Vedfelt via Getty Images

Wright’s post prompted discussion from other parents. It had more than 11,000 shares in five days and nearly 4,000 comments.

“Thank you for speaking out,” one mum wrote. “My daughter has a chronic illness, as well as many other health issues, and has so many hospital appointments she’ll never get one of these awards.

“Now they give the children with full attendance badges to wear too, it allows them extra privileges.

“She suffers enough with her health from bullies, without the school pointing a finger of shame at her.”

Another mother wrote: “As a teacher and mother of child with poor health I applaud you for this attitude.

“However until attendance is removed as a measure of a school’s success, as a teacher I will be expected to promote attendance incentives, alienating some of our most vulnerable students.”

Previously blogging on HuffPost UK, psychologist Sandi Mann agreed that attendance rewards do not work.

She wrote: “Not only do they penalise and stigmatise good kids who have the misfortune to be ill or have a medical condition, psychological ‘over justification theory’ suggests that if we give kids too many external rewards for attending school, they learn that school attendance only has value for these rewards. 

“It’s time to ditch these external reward schemes that deliver short-term benefits but offer little long-term value.

“Let’s stop punishing kids for being ill and instead look at ways to increase engagement and intrinsic motivation for all school children.”

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