While we can all agree that it's important for children and teens to receive a quality education, some parents and educators disagree about what makes the curriculum a quality one, from the contributions of the teachers to the parents to the students.
One hot-button topic has become absenteeism, as educators have argued that a student cannot receive a quality education if they miss classes. This has become such a mainstream concept that awards for perfect attendance and even attending additional, non-required events are awarded, while the number of absent days allowed seems to be lowered every year.
Not only is this a lot of pressure to put on students and parents, but the shame placed on students for missing could impact their mental health and performance in school.
In the "Mildly Infuriating" subReddit, the Original Poster (OP) shared a recent experience that they felt might be a form of shaming their child for missing a day of school.
Their eight-year-old son had missed a day of school early in the school year, and shortly after missing that day, the parent was going through his homework folder and discovered a word search that was potentially placed there to shame their son for being absent.
Redditor Secret_Anybody4799 posted:
"My son (eight years old) missed his first day of school. I found this sheet in his folder."
The Redditor then shared an image of the worksheet their son had received, titled "Miss School...Miss Out."
It appeared to be a standard word search, but the words included were a little suspect. The words to find ranged from "education" and "responsibility" to "graduate," "truant," and "excuse."
Here's the full image:
You can see the original post here:
Fellow Redditors were very concerned about the possible shaming behind the assignment.
"I always find this sort of shaming behavior towards children so odd. It's not like the eight-year-old is the person responsible for themselves attending school (even if put on a school bus)."
"It's the responsibility of the parent/guardian to have their child attend." - KoalaCapp
"Even in high school, I was rarely at fault for when I was tardy."
"I was tardy a LOT, but I had tons of family issues going on, custody sh*t was being played out in school parking lots, siblings not getting ready on time for our parents to drive us in (before buses came close enough to us to pick us up) and making me late because my classes were on the far side of the school from the drop-off line (my school was/is more than a mile long to get from the line to my first class every morning…)"
"Like, there are SOOOO MANY valid reasons to be late/out of class, and 95% of them are frankly too personal to expect people to share. There’s no reason to be shaming ANY student for being tardy."
"It only makes them want to show up less, and I’m speaking from plenty of personal experience."
"And f**k principals and disciplinarians that refuse to hear a kid out. I spent weeks in ISS because of my sister's bullsh*t."
"I literally lost an important part of my childhood over a bad judgment call. I couldn’t go to normal lunch my first year at a new school. It was a big part of what ruined my high school experience, not gonna lie." - Nuklearfps
"I had teachers who were passive (and sometimes directly) aggressive towards me due to bad attendance."
"It's like, 'Dude, why are you yelling at me? I'm just a nine-year-old. Take it up with my parents or f**k off.'"
"That guilt and pressure just made going to school 10 times harder...which meant I missed more days than I would've otherwise because I was sick with anxiety every morning." - h**lisahallway
"Truant? I’d be angry, asking questions." - Alannalovely
"This is definitely uncalled for. One missed day of school doesn't warrant punishment, in my opinion. There could be several reasons why someone may miss their first day of school."
"The best course of action right now is to talk to the teacher about the assignment, explain the reason for the absence, so your child won't be labeled as a truant student for the rest of the school year, and to ensure that he receives the help he needs in class." - WorldNewsPoster
Others agreed and were so weirded out by the assignment and its subject in general.
"This is such a weird thing to give a student for missing their first day." - tlvg__
"I think either you are getting played or we are, and I mean that sincerely. This isn’t normal, OP." - Sodapopa
"Former teacher here: This is horrible. Shame on whoever decided this should be sent home. (It might not be the teacher, so reserve judgment until you know.) But, no eight-year-old wants to miss the first day, and I’m sure you didn’t want that, either." - Repulsive_Raise6728
"This reminds me of my fourth-grade teacher's punishment for forgetting a homework assignment: go take the dictionary at the back of the room, look up the word 'forget,' and copy the definition 10 times onto a piece of paper."
"Speaking of which: Hey, Mr. Alfieri, f**k you." - mr207
"I can feel the aggression from this. Yikes." - spammalrammal
"That is petty as hell. That is all." - tomeThugNHarmony4664
The Redditor later clarified in a comment that their son received this worksheet after missing school for the first time in the school year, not that he specifically missed the first day of school.
"Sorry about the wording, but it was his first called-off day of the year, NOT the first day of school."
They then shared what their plan for moving forward was:
"I'm going to get ahold of my husband's cousin to see if his son received the same worksheet because they are in the same class. He (my son) does have a parent-teacher conference scheduled for Thursday morning, so I'm thinking I'll raise the issue there."
While it remains unclear if this homework assignment was a coincidental assignment or if it actually was a jab at the OP's son's one absentee day, the message that the assignment sends is still questionable.
There's a clear correlation on the worksheet between attending school, work ethic and future success—and it draws a harsh line between students who attend school every day versus those who miss classes, regardless of circumstances, health concerns and more.
For the right student—like one who has high anxiety and is eager to people please—an assignment like this could have an incredibly negative impact on their mental health.