Who Holds the Key to Chronic Absence? Parents.

June 30, 2017

A child attends school anywhere between 175-180 days a year, and some absences are to be expected in the case of illness, family emergencies, etc… but did you know that missing just two days a month can hinder your child’s education? ‘Chronic Absence’ occurs when a child misses 10% of the school year, or eighteen days. Despite what you might be thinking, the biggest component in ensuring a child attends school regularly isn’t the child - it’s the parent. Engaging regularly with your child and your child’s teachers can motivate your child to not only attend school, but excel in school!

Before children are of driving age, parents are, more than likely, able to control getting them back and forth to school. From that young age, it’s crucial to show your child the importance of getting to school on time every day (even if that means eating breakfast on-the-go in mismatching socks). As parents, it’s easy to get caught up in vacations, family events, or just the occasional “hooky day;” however, even in elementary school, these absences can set your child back academically and affect them in receiving their high school diploma.

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Let’s fast forward from elementary school to high school. Your son or daughter walks in and throws their backpack down on the couch. You ask them how their day went. “Fine,” they mumble as they walk to their room. Upon hearing their day went fine, you go back to doing whatever it was you were doing with no questions asked. But! What if they skipped school because they were being bullied? What if their teacher gave them detention because they brought a fidget spinner and now they were planning on skipping that class tomorrow? What if they forgot to study for a test and hid out in the auditorium so they could make it up next week? You’d have no idea unless you engaged with either them or their teachers.

A short call or even something as simple as sending a quick text to your child’s teacher can make all the difference in your child’s education. Trust me, the teachers will love to hear from you - even if it’s only to check in on how your child has been doing in class or to see if there’s anything you can do to help with your child’s success. This level of parental engagement can positively impact your child’s education by showing them a unified support system at school and at home. It also helps the teacher know that not only do you care, but that you’re willing to help them make your child’s education better.

The next time you think about letting your child skip a couple of days of school so you can go to Disney World early - think about them sitting on the sidelines as they watch their friends graduate. It might seem a little dramatic, but there is data out there backing up the correlation between absences and high school dropout rates. So, take a moment to really ask about your child’s day at school. The next time you think about it, call or send a text to their teacher and ask about how they’re doing in class. Even the smallest engagement can impact your child’s attendance and success at school.

“At the end of the day, the most overwhelming key to a child’s success is the positive involvement of parents.” - Jane D. Hull

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As a classroom educator, Melissa learned firsthand the importance of attendance. With SchoolStatus, Melissa now helps teachers all over the U.S. improve student attendance by engaging parents. Learn more HERE. 

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