Making school a priority from the start is important and will help set the tone for engagement regarding relationships, employment and other activities your child might be involved in now or in the future.
Keep reading for some strategies to help with school attendance and advocate for your child!
According to the Attendance Works website, a non for profit agency dedicated to advancing student success by reducing chronic attendance issues, America is in a school attendance crisis.
A recent survey suggests that chronic absence, which affected one out of six students prior to the pandemic, has tripled over the past few years. Chronic absence (missing 10% or more of school) is an early warning sign that students are at risk of not reading proficiently by the end of third grade, struggling academically in middle school and dropping out of high school.
Healthy school experiences, good academics, and strong engagement at school start with good school attendance.
In my time as an administrator and teacher, many parents would opt to keep their child home, and think it perfectly fine to supplement missed school time with work sent home. Many parents are unaware that although sending work home can be necessary and helpful at times, lessons done at home do not simulate the same type of learning done at school. When a student is in class the instruction is very different from simply doing a workbook page or reading a story independently. In a classroom students listen to instruction and take notes, communicate with their peers, collaborate on projects and assignments, problem solve and build relationships, and use critical thinking skills to create, build, and design. In school, students learn how to rely on their own independence to be patient and wait for others, and how to advocate for themselves and their needs.
A growing concern regarding school attendance...
A growing concern regarding school attendance is allowing students to stay home as a way to cope with social, academic, or personal struggles. More and more of our students are struggling with depression and anxiety. When parents allow students to miss school for any of these reasons, it simply sends the wrong message to the child. It drives home the message that avoidance is an acceptable way to cope with stressful situations. This approach teaches students to avoid their fears and anxiety.
Rather, we want to teach students how to communicate their concerns with trusted adults, and work out a plan to help eliminate some of the anxiety or fears they may be experiencing about school. Administrators and teachers are trained professionals, it’s important to trust them and their experience to help navigate this emotional rollercoaster.
It is totally appropriate to let the school know if your child is struggling. Even if your child's anxiety has to do with a particular student or teacher, making them aware of the problem is the first step.This is information that should be shared with the school. Knowledge is power, and without the information that something is wrong, the school has no way of addressing and improving the situation.
Here are a few good strategies to help with school attendance, and advocate for your child:
Build strong morning and night time routines. Set a plan and stick to it, even if the child resists. Be kind but firm, and always be consistent.
Communicate with your child’s school as soon as there are any warning signs they are struggling socially, academically, or personally.
Let the school know what you are doing at home to address the issue. Ask them for suggestions, and give them suggestions to help in the classroom.
Schedule appointments before school, after school, during assemblies, or on breaks. Send a message to your child that you value instructional time.
When your child is sick, minimize or eliminate video games, TV, laptops, cell phones. Have “technology free” sick days. If they need to do make-up work on the computer, limit the computer to only school work.
Avoid scheduling family vacations when school is in session. Let your family know school is their first priority.
For more information about school attendance check out attendanceworks.org.