Anyone who has ever gone to school in any capacity has likely played hooky at least once. And while your self-determined day off might not have been as exciting as Ferris Bueller’s in the iconic ‘80s flick, chances are it was for good reason.
Ideally, kids who decide to skip school are doing so with their parents’ permission, and for a good reason, like to see the premiere of a hotly-anticipated movie (the latest Star Wars or MCU film, for example), to spend a beautiful day at the park with family visiting from afar, to take a long weekend trip, or to participate in a major sporting tournament.
For parents, though, there’s always a twinge of guilt. Should you let your child take a day off school to go to the theatre or a sleepover trip with their friends? Is that soccer tournament really important enough to warrant a day lost of schooling?
As we gear up for the first day of school, here are the pros and cons of letting kids take a day off (later in the year, of course!)
10 You Get To Spend Extra Time With Your Kid: Pro
Assuming the skipped day is for a family event, this means you will get to spend more quality time with your child, which can be few and far between for families with working parents. Typically, the only time you get to spend with your kids is evenings and weekends, plus any vacation time. So if there’s an opportunity to do something fun, even if it consists of a day goofing off with mom and dad, why not?
The lessons will still be there the next day, and one day of schooling isn’t going to negatively impact their education. Check with the teacher to ensure that no new topics or big tests are planned for that day. If not, go for it!
9 They Might Miss Out On Important Lessons: Con
If you don’t time it correctly, you could let your child skip a critical day of the year when the teacher introduces an entirely new topic or equation that sets the course for the rest of the year. This could set your child back if they miss out on the initial lesson.
For kids who are already having trouble in school and aren’t good at studying on their own, this could be detrimental to their education. But checking in with the teacher first can alleviate any of these worries.
8 It Might Be For a Worthwhile Experience: Pro
Sometimes, once in a lifetime opportunities present themselves during school hours. And to opt out of one because your child has to spend the day in a classroom seems ludicrous. You don’t need to make a habit of it. But it’s important for your child to know that while education is critical, there’s more to life than school. And outside-of-school experiences can have a learning effect as well.
Your child could get much more out of a great trip to the museum for a limited time exhibit, or a day with family visiting from another country than they ever could from one routine day in the classroom.
7 They Might Not Appreciate It: Con
Be careful that your child doesn’t take your generosity for granted and uses your lax attitude to their advantage. Being so lenient could start a slippery slope where kids believe you don’t feel school is that important, and then use it against you. “If school is so important, why did you let me skip to go to such and such?”
It all depends on the child and your relationship with them and their performance in school. But for some, playing hooky once could mean that they think they can make a habit of it.
6 It Teaches Them Responsibility: Pro
Oddly, allowing a child to play hooky can actually teach them a sense of responsibility. Kids might feel empowered that you trust them enough not to fall behind by missing a day of lessons, and that you believe they are mature enough to make the decision.
Kids might gain a new respect and trust in their parents because of the trust their parents show in them, and might even work harder once back at school to prove that they deserved and earned that day off.
5 They Might Not Want It For The Right Reasons: Con
If the hooky day does not involve hanging out with you, you run the risk of your child not telling you the truth. Is there really an important day trip to support an important charitable cause that they want to attend with their friends, or are they sneaking off with a romantic interest to spend the day at an amusement park?
It all comes down to trust in your child, and believing that the reason they want to play hooky is a legitimate one, and they aren’t trying to pull one over on you.
4 It Promotes Balance: Pro
Life is all about balance, which means balancing schooling with a social life for children and work with family for adults. Showing your kids that taking one day off school to spend with their family, or do something socially conscious or maybe just fun, is OK once in a while. Maybe you can play hooky from work on the same day to show that you see the importance of family, too.
Kids work hard, and school, for the most part, is long, with kids often only getting a few months break in between school years. So even they deserve an extra break now and then.
3 The Teacher Might Look Down On You: Con
Depending on who your child’s teacher is, they might look down on you for allowing your child to skip school for any reason other than a death in the family or illness. Some teachers are super strict and believe that education is everything, and missed days are missed opportunities.
While you shouldn’t care so much what the teacher thinks because in the end, you are in charge of your own children, the side eyes you might get could be uncomfortable at the next parent-teacher interview.
2 It Can Help With Social Development: Pro
Especially for kids who have trouble connecting socially with others, and might be experiencing bullying or have issues at school, a day off they can spend with people who love and appreciate them could make a huge difference for their confidence.
It could also introduce them to other kids who might share similar likes and interests and give them a breather from the everyday rigors of school life. Kids who have trouble with social development can benefit from being in all sorts of social situations, and with school taking up much of their time, there aren’t many opportunities to explore others. So a hooky day might be just what the doctor ordered.
1 Absences Go On Their Record: Con
One day of hooky is not a big deal, but keep in mind that every day of absence goes on a student’s permanent record, and a history of frequent absences looks bad. Kids can be absent for many other reasons, of course, such as colds, doctor and dentist appointments, family vacations, and more.
And if your child already loses a lot of days for reasons other than playing hooky, you might not want to risk adding more to the lengthy list.