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How to Determine If They Should Stay Home

by Ronald A. Rowe | December 10th, 2014 | Elementary, School

little girl (400x400)“Mom, I don’t feel good!”

Those five words have triggered a maelstrom of activity in virtually every household at one time or another.  Your elementary child wakes up complaining of a stomach ache.  Your mind whirls through a checklist to determine your next step.  Is she really sick?  Is that big math test today?  Check her temperature, skin color, breathing.

Sometimes the answer is just obvious.  You can’t fake vomiting.  A fever is a dead giveaway.  There’s a certain look that accompanies illness that tells a parent that the child is too sick for school.

Sometimes the fakery is obvious, too.   Monday Fever is notoriously contagious among the elementary school set.  This “illness” is usually easy to diagnose based on the activities of the prior two days.  Too much fun on the weekend, staying up too late watching TV, and a lack of progress on that Social Studies report – all coupled with any direct evidence of an actual illness – are all signs that maybe your child is well enough to get up and go to school.

Then there are the times when it is a judgment call.  Maybe he’s really sick.  Maybe he’s faking.  It can be hard to make the distinction, especially because the child may not be sick but may not be lying, either.  The mind has a powerful effect on the body.  It doesn’t take much for a child stressed out about today’s math test to convince himself that he has a stomach ache.

If you are just starting your journey through the elementary years, be warned and take heart in knowing that you will judge wrongly, probably more than once.  The odds of you making the wrong call from time to time increase with the level of your child’s dramatic inclination.  You may brush off his complaints and send him to school, only to receive a mid-morning call from the school nurse.  You may be convinced to let him stay home but see a miraculous recovery right around the time his friends are getting out to go play stick ball.

When your child complains of an absence-worthy illness, take your time and assess the situation.  Make her get up and move around a bit.  Maybe even send her off to the shower before making a final determination.  Absent of any tell-tale symptoms, you can tell a lot about the veracity of the illness by how she responds to the mundane steps in getting herself ready in the morning.  Taking her mind off her purported illness may alleviate the symptoms altogether.  If that’s the case, bundle her up and send her off to school.

History is also a factor in determining whether to send him off to class of not.  Has he complained of a mysterious and ill-defined stomach bug on several test days this semester or is this the first time?  What is her attitude toward school lately?  Answering these questions may help you divine the true nature of the issue and make a wise decision regarding school attendance for the day.

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