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  • Kelly VanderBeek, OLY - Speaker - Broadcaster

School Absenteeism - The Reason Matters

I argue that missing school for the RIGHT reasons, encourages kids to spread their wings & fly.

I just finished reading an article about children's absenteeism from school as being an indicator for future troubles, like dropping out of high school. The article began by suggesting parents reconsider pulling their kids from school for a few days of vacation this winter. Insinuating that, by missing school, you're setting your children up for future failure.

This struck me as untrue, and worthy of protest.

I strongly encourage & believe missing school for the right reasons (like sport & travel) is valuable beyond measure.

In the above mentioned article, the top reasons for kids missing school by US researchers were:

- Infections such as influenza. - Poorly controlled chronic conditions like asthma. - Socioeconomic factors such as unstable housing conditions, transportation difficulties, exposure to domestic violence and being called on to care for younger family members.

So why go after vacations?

In order to pursue my goals as a ski racer, I was a chronically absentee student (granted, that didn't begin until I was in Grade 6 and beyond).

Some teachers & guidance councillors 'got it' and valued the effort I was putting into my life outside the school walls. Others, didn't. They truly believed I was going to ruin my life by missing so much school - and told me as much...regularly.

They weren't wrong about one thing...I was missing A LOT of school. By Grade 10, I was absentee 8 out of 10 months/year at a time when distance education options were all but non-existant.

Still, I managed to graduate with a 94% is that possible?

Outside of the school walls, I was learning the true meaning of hard work, time management, and dedication. My world was big and I valued the path of education more and more because I witnessed countries and people who weren't as lucky as I. I was grateful for my opportunities, so didn't squander them.

I don't preach that absenteeism is something to strive for. However, I do preach that not all absenteeism is negative. There is a lot of learning happening outside of traditional education and we must keep conversations between schools, students & parents healthy. This way, society won't hinder a child's opportunity to learn & grow outside the school walls.

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