Importance of Attendance
Did you know that someone with a bachelor’s degree can earn up to $36,424 more than the average drop out? Or that someone with a typical high school diploma can earn up to $10,386 more than the average drop out?i
Were you aware of the fact that your child’s attendance in the first month of school can predict chronic absenteeism for the entire year? Or that absenteeism in preschool and kindergarten can influence whether or not your child will pass the third grade? Or that middle and high school absenteeism can predict dropout rates?ii
Every minute of every hour of every day matters when it comes to your child’s education. Numerous studies show that missing just eight days of school—less than one day a month—during the year can negatively impact academic growth.
Every parent wants the best for their child—and this includes a high quality education. We need to recognize that learning is just as much an adult responsibility as it is a student’s responsibility. Parents and guardians set the tone of the importance of being in school, arriving on time, and staying engaged with studies. So how can you best set your child up for attendance success?
Here are some tips for maximizing your child’s opportunity to achieve at high levels and for helping you keep your child in class.
Stay positive about your child’s education.
Ask your child what they are learning at school and encourage them to teach that new thing to you. Be encouraging each day as they prepare to go to school and remind them that you believe in them and that a good education is a priority for your family.
Lay out clothes, pack backpacks, and pack lunches the night before.
The more you can do to plan ahead and limit interruptions that could make everyone late, the better. What only takes a few minutes in the evening seemingly takes forever in the morning. Taking necessary steps the night before to ensure clothes are laid out, the backpack is packed, and items for lunch are identified can help everyone stay on schedule and help students avoid tardiness that can easily happen.
Establish a back-up plan for getting your child to school.
If you are your child’s main source of transportation to the school, make sure you have a back-up plan in place just in case you are unable to drive them. Have a grandparent or other relative on standby, or perhaps even a neighbor.
Only keep your child home when they are really sick.
If your child is sick, everyone—including school leaders—wants your child to get better as quickly as possible. It is important for the parent to determine if they are really sick, or if the stomach ache they complain of, or the headache they are talking about is from sickness or stress. In order for your child to get the best out of their education, it is advised to only keep them home when they are really sick (running a fever, vomiting, or if they have something contagious). If and when this happens, it is important to keep them home so they can get better, and to avoid spreading the illness on to others. When your child is home, be sure to stay in touch with the school in order to pick up homework assignments for your child. They may be able to work on things while they are at home, or it might mean extra homework when they return. The key is to communicate with the school in order to keep your child on track academically.
Schedule doctor appointments and vacations after school hours or during school breaks.
Doctor appointments are needed. Vacations are something we all hope to be able to do. For the sake of your child’s education, and to ensure your child does not miss critical learning opportunities, it is best to schedule these during school breaks. Many schools build in a number of different breaks throughout the year—whether it is fall/winter break, or professional development days for teachers. Other schools have adopted a balanced calendar, or have classes throughout the year with longer breaks provided every six to ten weeks. Whenever possible, schedule these visits and trips during those times. Remember, eight days or more of missed school can negatively impact the education of your child.
Stay engaged with the teacher and understand your child’s attendance.
Let’s face it, we can’t always remember how much school our children are missing. So the best way to stay on top of absences for your child—from partial days to whole days—is to stay in contact with the teacher. Schools take attendance multiple times throughout the day. They will be able to help you keep track of where your student stands. In addition to understanding your child’s attendance record, staying in contact with the teacher helps you build an incredible relationship with them, and that isn’t a bad thing.
iBreslow, Jason M. “By the Numbers: Dropping Out of High School.” Frontline. Sept. 2012.
iiGinsburg, Alan, Phyllis Jordan, and Heidy Chang. “Absences Add Up: How School Attendance Influences Student Success.” Attendance Works. Aug. 2014.ibid