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Keeping Kids on Track: Attendance Strategies for Parents

Students with regular attendance are more likely to read well
by third grade and score higher on tests. They also tend to be
more engaged in school and feel better about themselves.
Put your child on the path to success
with these attendance strategies.
Make school a priority. Every absence
(excused or not), can impact a child’s
academic achievement. Talk to your
child about how important their
education is. Make daily routines for
homework and waking up on time for
Maintain communication with teachers
and keep an eye on your child’s
academic progress. If your child seems
disconnected from school or is prone
to skipping class, try signing him or her up for an after-school
activity. A report by the University of Minnesota found that
students in an after-school program attended 18 more days
of school and missed nine fewer than their peers.
Make a plan. If your schedule or transportation situation
makes getting your child to school a challenge, ask for
assistance. Make a carpool or transportation plan with other
parents or family members, or ask your school principal for
community programs or school initiatives that may help.
Report In. Know your school’s attendance policies. If an
absence or early dismissal is unavoidable, contact your
school. If your family’s religious observances fall on school
days, let teachers know early in the year which days your
child will miss.
Carefully weigh sick days. If your child is sick, talk with your
health care provider to determine whether they should stay
home from school. If the doctor or nurse recommends that
your child stay home, fi nd out exactly how long and on what
conditions he or she can return to class (for example, after 24
hours of antibiotics).
Before keeping your children home, make sure they aren’t
faking symptoms. Regularly feigning sickness may be a sign
that your child is anxious about facing a challenge at school,
such as bullying.
Schedule wisely. Know your school’s
calendar, and arrange doctor and
dentist appointments after school,
on weekends, or during holiday
breaks, if possible. Resist the urge to
schedule vacations when students
will miss school. This gives students
the impression that school is not a
Help students complete assignments.
When your child has to miss school,
make arrangements with teachers
to pick up a packet of make-up work. Ensure that your child
follows through, and be available to explain concepts or
monitor their work. If your child’s absence will be lengthy (for
surgery, for instance), alert teachers as soon as you know and
pick up assignments as the days go on.
To stay on track in school, students need to be present every day. Missing 18 or more days of school in a year puts
a child’s high school graduation at risk, according to BoostUp.org, a national dropout prevention campaign. Being
absent for just two days every month of the school year can put a child behind academically.
RP 32:1
Make Every Day Count:
Boost School Attendance
Report to Parents, written to serve elementary and middle-level principals, may be
reproduced by National Association of Elementary School Principals members without
permission. It can be posted to school websites, blogs, or sent via email. Back issues are
available to members at naesp.org.
Web Resources
Get Schooled has a number of attendance-related
games and tools, including the Attendance Counts
calculator and celebrity wake-up calls for students.
The Children’s Hospital of Colorado’s How Sick is Too
Sick? guide can help families decide which symptoms
should keep students at home.
Attendance Works off ers research, webinars, and
handouts designed with elementary and middle-level
parents in mind.