Parents, you need to know that starting in kindergarten, too many absences can cause children to fall behind in school, and excessive absences[about 18 school days] can make it harder for your child to learn to read. Good school attendance matters and being late to school may lead to poor attendance.
Regular attendance helps your child feel better about school, themselves and the learning process. It is important to teach them that going to school on time every day is important and helps children do well in high school, college and the world of work.
Help your child succeed in school, and build the habit of good attendance early. Every day matters, and though your child may feel that the teacher will not miss them in their absence, they will miss what the teacher teaches. Achievement goes together with good attendance. Children will fall behind even if they miss just a day or two every few weeks. Help your child succeed in school. Learning should be fun, even when it is challenging. That is simply how we grow. Establish good attendance habits. Here’s how you help:
WHAT YOU CAN DO
• Set a regular bed time and morning routine. Alarm clocks or your voice as a personal wake-up call will work. Knowing your child’s typical sleep habits and sleep needs[age dependent], you will be able to set a bedtime to allow sufficient rest and rising for regular punctuality at school.
• Lay out clothes and pack backpacks the night before. It is a good practice to allow even the youngest children to assist in deciding their school outfits, including underwear. If they can be arranged and labeled in their closet, for the week, it will save time. If your child’s school has dress codes, then it becomes a no-brainer. By the way, make sure that, if you can’t guarantee the clean daily uniform, have extra items, like pants and shirts which match the school colors. Just in case!
• Find out what day school starts and make sure your child has the required shots. Also, don’t wait until school begins to gather supplies. Your child’s teacher will likely give handouts detailing needed supplies, but the basics should be on hand already. These are paper[any kind beats none], pencils or pen at the least.
• Introduce your child to her teachers and classmates before school starts to help the transition, if possible. If not, take a tour of the school grounds, and perform a practice run to approximate distance and time. Absolutely important for you and your child is that you introduce yourself to the teacher. Partner up early.
If there are language barriers, and your grasp of the English language is limited, don’t let that stop you from establishing relationships with teachers at school. Visit the main office, and in your native language, ask for someone to translate your discussions. When someone is identified for you, ask about availability for addressing your concerns. Also, ask your school about a multi-lingual website, and then seek out resources to help your language fluency. Start at 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.
• Develop back-up plans for getting to school. Call on a family member, a neighbor, or another parent. Ask others whether there is a Walking School Bus in your neighborhood, or start one. They are a wonderful option for safe and reliable transportation to and from school.
• Avoid medical appointments and extended trips when school is in session. Try weekend scheduling or hours, if possible. If your child has a medical appointment during the day, you can still bring him or her to school afterward, or arrange early dismissal. Half days are better than an entire day’s absence.
After you’ve done your part in getting your child to school regularly, the rest is up to your child and his or her teacher. Then, you resume supporting learning and achievement after school when your child comes home.
The routines you establish after school also help your child’s school performance and ultimately… attendance. It is as important that structure and routines be established and maintained at home, as they are at school. When your child comes home from school, even when you aren’t there, there should be specific expectations of DAILY responsibilities.
After their afternoon snack, the time when they wind down from a long day at school, they should complete any homework assignments. Set aside a place for them to do their work- a room that’s quiet[no TV, devices, or toys]. Call that room, or particular space, the ‘learning hut’. Whether a desk, an entire room, or the kitchen table, it must be quiet, with no distractions. This space will be where all independent learning activities related to school take place.
All book bags, backpacks and school supplies should be in this area for easy access. And this will be the place designated for all items related to school and learning will be kept. No longer should you expect to allow your child the excuse that something has been misplaced or lost. Make sure that nothing ever leaves that area, too. You don’t want to see stray books or papers, or glue and such in any other space in the home. Now, when you are present and helping or supervising your child’s work assignments, that should be the only times when items may go outside of the area.
Many children will pretend to be ill when they haven’t completed an assignment or lost their work, for fear of breaking their teacher’s rules. Do not let this happen. Don’t give in. Whether completed assignments or not, attendance is still necessary. If your child finds his or her work too difficult and you find that you are unable to offer sufficient help, then after exhausting the options that exist for other sources of homework assistance, such as ‘Dial-a-Teacher’, write a little note to the teacher and tactfully explain the situation.
This is not to be an excuse, or an easy way out for your child, but rather an opportunity for the teacher to mindfully individualize instruction and proceed accordingly. If your child was disengaged or distracted while the lesson was illustrated, then you WILL know. You will know because in this note, you will invite the teacher’s comment and reply to your note.
When your child delivers this note to the teacher, instruct him or her to return that note to you at the end of the day…with the teacher’s comments on that same sheet of paper. You will be better informed about what your child does in class. Another benefit is that you will have opened the doors to collaborating and partnering with the teacher. So, don’t let your child miss a day of school if you believe that this sudden illness is about homework, not just a belly ache.
You can establish an excellent routine of good attendance, be involved and engaged with the learning process at school, and stay ‘in the know’ about your child’s learning progress. It’s best to begin early, from DAY ONE-right from the start!