Your child wakes up complaining of a sore throat or a stomachache. But staying home with a sick child was definitely not on your long to-do list for the day. Do you send her to school and hope you don't get a mid-day phone call from the school nurse? Or do you just keep her home for the day?


If your child is running a fever, it's a good sign that she should stay home for the day. Fevers are usually lower in the morning and increase as the day progresses. So if your child wakes up with a fever, especially one that is above 100 degrees, keep her home. It is likely a sign of a viral infection like the flu. Give her plenty of fluids and make sure she rests. Call her pediatrician if you are concerned, but your child should be fever-free and medication-free for a full 24 hours before she returns to school.


If your child has a slight cough or a runny nose, it's okay to send her to school. However, if your child coughs whenever she tries to speak or if it is persistent, she should stay home and you should call her doctor. A bad cough could be a sign of a more serious condition such as bronchitis, whooping cough, or pneumonia.

Stomach Bugs

If your child has diarrhea or is vomiting, she should definitely stay home. Not only is it inconsiderate to the teacher and classmates to send her to school, but your child is likely uncomfortable and tired. After a full 24 hours of good health, you can send her back.


If your child complains of an earache, especially during the night or first thing in the morning, you should bring her to see the doctor. Earaches are usually ear infections and your child may need an antibiotic.

Sore Throat

A little bit of a sore throat may be okay, but if your child is really complaining that her throat hurts or that it hurts to talk, take her to the doctor. She could have strep throat, even if soreness is her only symptom.

Pink Eye

Also known as conjunctivitis, pink eye should not be taken lightly. It is highly contagious and if it is viral rather than bacterial, an antibiotic won't help. Take her to the doctor, who will let you know when it is safe for her to go back to school.


If your child has a rash, you should bring her to the doctor. It could just be dry skin, or it could also be a bacterial infection that needs antibiotics.


If your child is sleeping more than usual, or you have trouble waking her in the morning when she usually wakes up on her own, it could be a sign of illness. If this sleepiness is accompanied by any other symptoms, it's a good idea to keep her home to rest.

The most important rule to follow is to trust your parenting instincts. No one knows your child like you do, and if your gut tells you to keep her home, than keep her home. If you think she may be faking an illness, it could be a sign that there is a problem at school. She could be struggling with a class or subject, or having trouble with her peers. Don't brush it aside. You may want to keep her home for the day so the two of you can talk about it.

This is not intended to replace professional medical advice. If you are concerned about your child's health, please check with your family doctor or pediatrician.