Research shows that students who attend school regularly learn more, have fewer discipline problems, acquire better study habits and are generally more successful than students who do not. Missing even an hour of school can be a learning opportunity lost.
Good attendance practices are formed early in life – so parents can set a positive example at home and make family choices that will help children arrive at school each day ready to learn.
Here are some ideas:
Show your children you, too, are bit by the “learning bug.”
When children are young, parents’ interest and enthusiasm in learning new things can be “catchy.” Bone up on what your kids are learning in school so you can ask questions and offer additional information. Attending open houses and parent-teacher conferences will give you information to talk with your children about. (For example: “Your teacher said you planted flower seeds in class. How do you care for them? Have they sprouted yet? Would you like to start a flower garden in our yard? Let’s go to the library and get some books on growing flowers.”)
Set consistent waking and bedtime schedules – and stick to them.
This may be hard to do coming off of summer vacation, but in order for children ages 5 to 12 to perform well in school, they need between 9 ½ and 11 hours of sleep each night. Going to bed and waking at the same times each day – including weekends – will help ensure that children not only get enough sleep, but have plenty of time to eat a nutritious breakfast, gather their school supplies and get to school on time.
Get your children organized.
A sure way for kids to be late for school is to have them running around in the morning trying to find their backpacks, sneakers or yesterday’s homework assignment. Designate a space in your home for your kids to store their school bags and supplies, coats and other outdoor accessories so getting ready for school is less of a chore. You could also create a “to-do” list with “night-before” tasks (i.e., put homework, permission slips, lunch money, etc. in book bag) and “morning” tasks (make bed, brush teeth, put lunch in book bag, pack gym clothes, etc.). It makes for a much easier school day if children – and parents alike – start the day in a calm manner.
Ensure your children attend a full day of school.
As much as possible, try to schedule medical and other appointments during non-school hours. Plan family vacations during school recesses so your children are not missing important academic lessons.
- Attendance Works: “Elementary Schools Absenteeism.” www.attendance works.org
- Great Schools: “School Attendance: Issues to Consider.” www.greatschools.org
- National Center for Children in Poverty: “Present, Engaged, and Accounted For: The Critical Importance of Addressing Chronic Absence in the Early Grades.” www.nccp.org.