Rachael Rachael, a mom of two daughters, is a freelance editor and writer who enjoys gardening and dreams of keeping chickens in her suburban St. Louis backyard. In her spare time, she helps to edit her husband’s science fiction books. Read more of Rachael's work at www.rachaelsjohnston.com or contact her by emailing rachael@mumblingmommy.com.
Photo via simplysenia.com.

Is there a standard for when it’s acceptable to miss school? Is there an age or an excuse that makes it okay? I was faced with this dilemma this week with my preschool-aged daughter.

Odds were against us on Tuesday morning, a freezing cold day. One of my 13-month-old daughters was on day three of a severe double ear infection. It was her first day with no temp, but she was up from 2 a.m. till close to 5 a.m. screaming in pain, her screams waking up her sisters, her dad, and, of course, me. When the alarm went off at 6:30, getting out of bed was the last thing on my mind. Then I checked the weather and it was a ridiculous 9 degrees outside.

Would you have kept your preschooler home? What if your child was a second grader? Would you call in sick to work? What and when is this practice okay? For me, I kept my preschooler home. I felt guilty, but I kept her home. I sent a text to her teacher, who was very understanding, and we stayed snuggled in. (Luck would have it, a mini unexpected blizzard started about 15 minutes before preschool pickup, so I was VERY glad I didn’t have to go out in that on top of the cold.)

For smaller children, skipping a day of preschool seems to be okay. Many moms say, “It’s just preschool” or, “You only live once.” That seems fair. I mean, we are talking about a 3-year-old here. It’s hard to make too many lifelong plans at 3. But does this set your child up for a future of skipping?

Parents need to get involved and show their children that school is interesting. Older children tend to fake illnesses to get out of school. Boredom is the number one cause for students to skip class. We often focus on the “required” part and compare going to school to adults having to go to work, but we should emphasize the interesting learning material, opportunities for fun, and the social aspect. If kids don’t feel like school is valuable, the trend for skipping and dropping out will become dangerous, with 75% of students not finishing college, according to Education.com

Even more worrisome, a CNN blog cites a study claiming students who miss more than 10 days of school are nearly 20 percent less likely to graduate from high school.

Are you still sure about that innocent day off? On top of all the lifelong consequences, there are the simple moral issues you’ll be faced with. Do you lie to the teacher? Do you pretend your child was ill and play catch up later? Or do you stick with the truth, plan ahead, and pick up any missed work so your child does not get behind? Once you figure out the moral issues, don’t forget there are actual legal issues, too. Do you know the truancy laws in your state? An honest or innocent day of memorable fun for the family could result in court hearings, fines, or even jail time.