By Helen Neubauer, September 1, 2009
I found Autumn Grooms’ story about truancy extremely interesting – and the facts in it depressing (Sunday Tribune). It appears that there are many people who place little value on education, judging by the comments that have been posted about the story.
Truancy is related to “unexplained” absences. One woman ranted on about taking her child on vacation to see grandma … if parents notify a school that their child will be gone – and hopefully request some school work to take along if the child is going to miss several days of school – it is not “unexplained.” A teacher may not be happy with a student’s absence, particularly at the onset of a school year or if the student is having difficulty with a subject and will get further behind, but most teachers are more than willing to work with a student and their parents if an illness or vacation keeps the child from attending classes.
I find it disturbing that a parent would not understand that giving a child the impression that school isn’t important – regardless of it being “only” Kindergarten – sets a precedent. If going on a shopping trip to the Twin Cities or staying home to watch the time vacuum is considered to be an appropriate reason for missing school, is it no wonder that adolescents frequently regard school as “a waste of time,” “meaningless” or just plain unimportant?
State law does not require a child younger than 6 to be in school; if a parent would rather have a 5-year-old stay home and play, it is the parent’s prerogative; however, if parents’ do enroll their child in school, they should make it a priority to encourage their children’s education.
I agree that not all time away from the classroom is bad. Parents can certainly augment their children’s education with books, trips to a museum, zoo or nature area, etc. I think they should do this; it is not only a learning experience for the child but also rewarding family time. However, teaching your child responsible behavior and helping him or her to see school as a positive experience should be a priority for everyone.