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Why Attendance Matters

by Expect More Arizona

Showing up for school has a huge impact on a student’s academic success starting in kindergarten and continuing through high school. Even as children grow older and more independent, families play a key role in making sure students get to school safely every day and understand why attendance is so important for success in school and on the job.

DID YOU KNOW?

  • Starting in kindergarten, too many absences can cause children to fall behind in school.
  • In kindergarten, missing even 10 percent (approximately 18 days) of school can make it harder to learn to read.
  • By 6th grade, absenteeism is one of three signs that a student may drop out of high school.
  • By 9th grade, regular and high attendance is a better predictor of graduation rates than 8th grade test scores.
  • Absences can affect the whole classroom if the teacher has to slow down learning to help children catch up.
  • Being late to school may lead to poor attendance.
  • Students should miss no more than 9 days of school each year to stay engaged, successful and on track.
  • Absences can be a sign that a student is losing interest in school, struggling with school work, dealing with a bully or facing some other potentially serious difficulty.
  • Students can be 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.

WHAT YOU CAN DO (Parents of children in K – 5th grade)

  • Set a regular bed time and morning routine.
  • Lay out clothes and back packs the night before.
  • Make sure your child has the required shots/vaccinations before the first day of school.
  • Don’t let your child stay home unless she is truly sick. Keep in mind complaints of a stomach ache or headache can be a sign of anxiety and not a reason to stay home.
  • If you child seems anxious about going to school, talk to teachers, school counselors or other parents for advice about making her more comfortable and excited about learning.
  • Develop back-up plans for getting to school if something comes up. Call on a family member, neighbor or other parent.
  • Avoid medical appointments and extended trips when school is in session.

WHAT YOU CAN DO (Parents of children in 6th-12th grade)

  • Make school attendance 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 TEEN STAY ENGAGED

  • Find out if your child feels engaged by his classes and feels safe from bullies and 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.
  • Stay on top of academic progress and seek help from teachers or tutors if necessary. Make sure teachers know how to contact you.
  • Stay on top of your child’s social contacts. Peer pressure can lead to skipping school, while students without many friends can feel isolated.
  • Encourage meaningful afterschool activities, including sports and clubs.

COMMUNICATE WITH THE SCHOOL

  • Know the school’s attendance policy – incentives and penalties
  • Talk to teachers if you notice sudden changes in behavior. These could be tied to something going on at school.
  • Check on your child’s attendance to be sure absences are not piling up.
  • Ask for help from school officials, afterschool programs, other parents or community agencies if you’re having trouble getting your child to school.

© Reach Out and Read, Inc.

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