How do you know if your child is missing too much school? It only takes two lost days per month to be considered chronically absent. That’s about 10 percent of the school year in Arizona, and while two days per month doesn’t seem like much, it can have a big impact on learning.
In fact, students who are are chronically absent in kindergarten and first grade score lower on third grade reading tests and are more likely to repeat a grade. By the time a student gets to sixth grade, attendance rates are a key predictor of whether they’ll graduate from high school.
Missing a few days a year for illness or travel is inevitable, but how can you minimize the impact of lost class time for your child? Here are some ideas:
- Start out right. Studies have shown that students who miss more than two days during the first month of school are likely to miss up to a month during the year. By creating positive patterns early in the year, you’ll set your child up for success.
- Plan ahead. Check your school’s calendar for holiday breaks and use the dates to minimize foreseeable absences related to family travel. Make appointments for early morning or late afternoon so that planned activities don’t interfere with learning.
- Manage habits. To keep your budding scholar attentive and engaged, ensure that they get adequate sleep and a healthy breakfast. What’s more, creating a schedule for study time and free time can emphasize the priority that homework should be afforded.
- Communicate regularly. Keep in close touch with your child’s teacher to track absences and academic progress. When you know that class time will be missed, find out whether your child needs to make up work and how you can continue the learning process at home or on the road.
- Know your kid’s social circles. Having friends and feeling included in class can make kids less likely to avoid class and can reduce social anxiety and bullying that can sometimes happen at school. Every child should feel safe at school.
- Emphasize the importance of academics. By speaking with your child about the value of learning and the long-term impact of school, they’ll better understand the importance of being in class every day. Having high expectations shouldn’t be limited to the classroom; it should start in the home.
Few things in life can replace education, and when students – and parents – understand the importance of being in school every day, they greatly improve their chances of academic achievements. The study habits and dedication they form early will set the stage for a lifetime of personal and professional success.
Expect More Arizona is a statewide nonprofit, nonpartisan education advocacy organization working to build a movement of Arizonans in support of world-class education for every child. For more information visit ExpectMoreArizona.org.