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The Importance of School Attendance

 Students in Class
Students in Class

 As summer vacations come to a close, families with school age children begin to anticipate the first day of school.

The excitement of meeting new teachers, greeting old friends, and meeting new friends make the beginning days of school the most attended. However, every school day is equally important as the first school day. Good attendance will help your children do well in all grade levels, college, and at work.

Sporadic absences, not just those on consecutive days of school matter. Your children can suffer academically if they miss 10 percent of the school year or 18 days. This amount of missed school is defined as chronic absenteeism.

Chronic absenteeism can be just one day every two weeks, and that can happen before you know it. If too many absences occur, it is still a problem whether they are excused or unexcused because they represent too much lost learning time in the classroom. Some absences are unavoidable.

We understand that children will get sick and need to stay home occasionally. The important thing is to get your children to school as often as possible.

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.

Studies show that 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. By middle and high school, chronic absence is a lead warning sign that a student will drop out and fail to receive a high school diploma.

Families should avoid extended vacations that require your child to miss school. Try to line up vacations with the school’s schedule. The same goes for doctor’s appointments.

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.

Get to know the teachers and administrators at your school. With younger children, make sure you introduce your child to teachers before school starts and keep in touch with teachers.

For older students, school officials can help you stay on top of academic progress and social contacts to make sure your child is staying on track. Seek help from the school and community if you are facing tough challenges related to access to health care, unstable housing, poor transportation, or lack of food.

More schools and communities are working together to offer help for the whole family. Above all, set an example for your child. Show him or her that attendance matters to you and that you won’t allow an absence unless someone is truly sick.

Avoid asking older students to miss school to help with daycare and household errands. With just a little prior preparation, your child’s school year can be successful and enjoyable. It will also give your child the education needed in order to have a happy, healthy life.