September is National Attendance Awareness Month. Regular school attendance is so important it gets an entire month of recognition and celebration.
Many parents underestimate the importance of good school attendance, especially during the early years. Showing up for school has a huge impact on a student’s academic success starting in kindergarten and continuing through high school.
While missing school a day here and a day there may not seem like much, missing just two days a month can drastically affect a student’s academic success. Those two days a month means your child is missing 10 percent of the entire school year. Unexcused and excused absences easily add up to too much time lost in the classroom.
Attendance matters as early as kindergarten. Studies show many children who miss too many days in kindergarten and first grade can struggle academically in later years. They often have trouble mastering reading by the end of third grade.
Even as children grow older and more independent, parents and families play a key role in making sure students get to school safely every day. It is essential that students understand why attendance is so important for success in school.
Parents should be aware of the information below to ensure that their student is not at risk:
– Students should miss no more than nine days of school each year to stay engaged, successful and on track to graduation.
– Absences can be a sign that a student is losing interest in school, or struggling with school work.
– By 6th grade, absenteeism is one of three signs that a student may drop out of high school.
– By 9th grade, regular attendance is a better predictor of graduation rates than test scores.
– Students can be considered chronically absent even if they only miss a day or two every few weeks.
– Attendance is an important life skill that will help your child graduate from college and keep a job. Students who attend school regularly are more likely to graduate and find good jobs. In fact, a high school graduate makes, on average, a million dollars more than a dropout over a lifetime.
Students miss school for many reasons. They may be absent sporadically due to illnesses, college visits or planned family events. Other students may face more significant barriers to regular attendance resulting in more frequent and long-term absences. Some absences may be excused and others are unexcused. Regardless of the reason for the absence, every day in school matters because some lessons cannot be made up at home.
What can you, as a parent, do to make sure that school is a priority?
– Talk about the importance of showing up to school every day, Make that the expectation.
– Help your child maintain daily routines, such as finishing homework and getting a good night’s sleep.
– Try not to schedule dental and medical appointments during the school day.
– Don’t let your child stay home unless truly sick. Complaints of headaches or stomach aches may be signs of anxiety.
– Help your child stay engaged…Find out if your child feels engaged by his classes and feels safe from other threats. Make sure he/she is not missing class because of behavioral issues and school discipline policies. If any of these are problems, work with your school.
– Contact the teacher to find out what your child missed and make a plan to complete the
work if your student must miss school because if illness.
– Encourage meaningful afterschool activities, including sports and clubs.
– Ask for help from school officials, afterschool programs, other parents or community agencies if you’re having trouble getting your child to school.
– Above all, set an example for your child.
Jim Hooper is Director of Curriculum & Instruction for Greenville City Schools. Contact him at 937-548-3185.