Worrying about how sick days affect grades: study

Wednesday, 03 April, 2024

Worrying about how sick days affect grades: study

New research suggests that parents are sometimes unsure whether their child should stay home from school if they are unwell.

According to the University of Michigan Health C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health, the top factors considered by parents include how their adolescent is behaving due to symptoms and if they can get through a school day; the risk that they’re contagious; and whether the student will miss a test, presentation or after-school activity. One in five parents also consider if their child needs a mental health day.

The nationally representative report is based on 1300 responses from parents of children ages 11 to 18 surveyed in February 2024.

“In some cases, the decision to keep kids home from school is clear, such as if the child is vomiting or has a high fever,” said Mott Poll co-director Sarah Clark, M.P.H.

“But parents often have to guess at whether their child’s report of ‘not feeling well’ represents a good reason to miss school.”

More than half of parents say they’re more likely to keep kids home just to be safe in situations where it’s unclear how sick their child is. Another quarter of parents would send their child to school and hope for the best while less than a fifth would let their child decide.

As grades become more important to adolescents and teens in junior and senior high school, many parents also include academic considerations in their sick day decision. Nearly two-thirds of parents say their child worries about an absence’s negative impact on grades or missing friends or school activities.

Clark recommends parents ask more questions to learn about their child’s request to stay home. If it’s on the day of a test, she said, it may reflect their lack of preparation or anxiety about performing well.

Many parents also recognise increasing mental health concerns among children, reflected by the 19% who say they’re open to allowing a child to take a mental health day.

Clark noted that in some instances, face-to-face interactions may trigger or exacerbate mental health issues, such as a break-up with a romantic partner, a falling out with friends, or an embarrassing incident shared on social media.

“It’s understandable that students may fear facing peers in uncomfortable social situations, but they can’t miss school every time they expect an unpleasant interaction,” she said.

“Facing discomfort is a natural part of life, and parents play an important role in helping kids to learn how to navigate these challenges in order to build resilience and develop healthy strategies for handling social stressors.”

In balancing their decisions about allowing their child a mental health day, parents may think about the purpose of the day away from school, she said. It may be an opportunity to help their child plan how to handle interactions, practice strategies to stay calm and ease anxiety, and identify specific peers, teachers or staff who could be sources of support.

For children who have been diagnosed with depression or anxiety, missing school may be necessary to sustain the child’s wellbeing, Clark added. Parents should consult with their child’s mental health provider for guidance.

Image credit: iStock.com/cagkansayin

Related News

Reading teaches children about pain: study

Young children learn about the concept of pain through reading, a new study from University of...

Increasing language diversity in western Sydney schools

Nearly 250 language backgrounds are represented in NSW public schools, according to a new report.

Lack of school readiness predicts disadvantage: study

An analysis of student data has found that students struggling when they first start school are...

  • All content Copyright © 2024 Westwick-Farrow Pty Ltd