Nationwide, at many as one out of 10 students is chronically absent, meaning they miss 10 percent or more of school days, or nearly a month. Chronic absence is a leading, early warning indicator of academic trouble and later dropout.
Excused and unexcused absences easily add up to too much time lost in the classroom. Students are at risk academically if they miss 10 percent of the school year, or about 18 days. Once too many absences have occurred, they can affect learning, regardless of whether absences are excused or unexcused. Sporadic, not just consecutive, absences matter. Before you know it – just one or two days a month can add up to nearly 10 percent of the school year.
Preschool is a great time to start building a habit of good attendance. Young children with poor attendance in preschool also lose out on valuable learning time and if chronic absence continues into kindergarten, it can pull down academic achievement.
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.
When Do Absences Become a Problem?
CHRONIC ABSENCE- 18 or more days
WARNING SIGNS- 10 to 17 days
SATISFACTORY- 9 or fewer absences
Importance of Good Attendance
Attending school regularly helps children feel better about school—and themselves.
If children don’t show up for school regularly, they miss out on fundamental reading and math skills and the chance to build a habit of good attendance that will carry them into college and careers.
Good attendance helps children do well in school and eventually in the workplace. Good attendance matters for school success, starting as early as prekindergarten and throughout elementary school. By middle and high school, poor attendance is a leading indicator of dropout. Developing the habit of attendance prepares students for success on the job and in life.
Tips for Encouraging Good Attendance
Lay out clothes and pack backpacks the night before.
Set a regular bed time and morning routine. For younger children, you can set a regular bedtime and morning routine. Make sure they get 9 to 11 hours of sleep. You can lay out clothes and pack backpacks the night before. For older children, you can help them develop homework and bedtime routines that allow for 8 ½ to 9 ½ hours of sleep. Make sure that when the lights go out, so do the cell phones, video games and computers.
Avoid unnecessary absences. Families should avoid extended vacations that require your children to miss school. Try to line up vacations with the school’s schedule. The same goes for doctor’s appointments.
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 your child seems anxious about going to school, talk to teachers, school counselors, or other parents for advice on how to make your child feel comfortable and excited about learning.
Some absences are unavoidable. Occasionally, children get sick and need to stay home. What is important is getting children to school as often as possible.
How Sick is Too Sick?
Send me to school if…..
I have a runny nose or just a little cough, but no other symptoms.
I haven’t taken any fever reducing medicine for 24 hours, and I haven’t had a fever during that time.
I haven’t thrown up or had any diarrhea for 24 hours.
Keep me home if…..
I have a temperature higher than 100 degrees even after taking medicine.
I’m throwing up or have diarrhea.
My eyes are pink and crusty.
Call the doctor if…..
I have a temperature higher than 100 degrees for more than two days.
I’ve been throwing up or have diarrhea for more than two days.
I’ve had the sniffles for more than a week, and they aren’t getting better.