It matters more
than you might think!
If a child misses
just one day a week, over
the course of their school career, they will miss two years of
New York State education law requires all
children, age 6 through 16, attend school regularly. But, the
importance of school attendance goes beyond meeting the letter
of the law. In order for kids to be successful, they need to be
in school, and on task, every day.
you know? Starting in kindergarten, too many
absences can cause children to fall behind in school. And,
missing 10 percent (or about 18 days) can make it harder to
learn to read.
Excused vs Unexcused Absences
The bottom line: Making sure your child is at school
every day is one of the most powerful ways parents can ensure
Things parents/guardians can do to
attendance habits and strategies to encourage children to avoid
cheerleader for learning. When children are
young, your enthusiasm can be contagious. Reading up on what
they'll be learning this school year, attending open house
and learning how best to stay in touch with their teachers
will give you information you can talk up (e.g., "Your
teacher says you're growing monarch butterflies in class.
How are they doing? Did you see that one fly by our window?
Why don't we get some books from the library so we can learn
more about them?") When you're interested in what's going on
at school, your children are more likely to approach school
with interest, too.
waking and bedtimes. It can be a challenge to get children into bed at
night and then wake them in time to get to school the next
morning. Children ages 5-12 need between 9 1/2 to 11 hours
of sleep each night to be healthy and to learn well. Create
routines around bedtimes (e.g., washing up, reading
together, lights out by the same time each night) that
you'll stick with all year. Waking at the same time each
day—including the weekends—leaves plenty of time for
children to eat a nutritious breakfast, gather necessary
supplies and get out the door and to school before the bell.
Help them get
organized. Making a space in your home for kids
to store backpacks, coats, sneakers, and other necessary
supplies can help them get to school on time and ready to
learn. Create a "to-do" list with "night before" tasks
(e.g., put homework, permission slips and letters to teacher
in backpacks, pack lunch money, etc.) and "school morning"
responsibilities (such as make bed, wash and brush, dress in
gym- and weather-ready clothes, etc.). Post this list in a
place where children can easily refer to it, such as their
bedroom doors or the refrigerator. Getting organized can
help create a calmer home atmosphere that helps kids move
out the door in a school-ready mood.
Make medical and
other appointments during non-school hours if possible.
Schedule family vacations during school holidays so that
kids aren't missing important school learning.
Keep track of your
children's absences. For young children, new
school experiences can sometimes seem scary or overwhelming.
Not wanting to go to school or excessive absences might be a
sign of this or of a larger physical or emotional problem.
If absences become common, talking with your child's doctor,
teachers, school social worker and/or nurse can help provide
a clearer picture of what might be at the root of them.