As school begins each year students are usually filled with excitement and enthusiasm to meet new friends and learn new things. Just the anticipation of a new class and seeing their old friends provides motivation to come to school during the first few weeks. Regrettably, after a few weeks some students begin to feel that regular attendance to school is not important. Sadly, but not usually intentionally, some parents also feel that missing a few days of school is not that important.
Last year at Mountain Green Elementary School approximately 25 percent of our students had 10 or more absences during the school year. That means that at least 121 students each lost 65 hours of instructional time. A study on the progress of 640 young elementary students done by Applied Survey Research showed that students who arrived at school academically ready to learn, but then missed 10 percent of their time in early grade school years, scored on average 60 points below similar students with good attendance on third grade reading tests. In math, the gap was nearly 100 points.
Why does good attendance provide students with the best chance for success? First, it is very difficult for any student to increase their knowledge if they are not coming to school. Lessons in school are taught in successive order and built upon what was taught the day before. Missing even a few days will mean a child will miss out on active learning experiences and class participation. The opportunity to ask questions and listen to the questions asked by others is lost. Adding new academic skills each day becomes even more critical to ongoing academic success when children are in the early elementary years. Unless students attain the essential building blocks taught in math and reading during the kindergarten through fifth grade years they will often require extra help to catch up and have a higher risk of dropping out of school during their high school time.
The second reason for good attendance is the success that students show after graduation. Students that have attended school regularly develop the habits of working hard, completing assignments, and commitment to a task. These habits are three of the most important ideals that the future employers of our young men and women will be looking for.
A student’s success is in direct relationship with the importance that parents put on the value of education. When parents believe that attendance at school is important and communicate that to their children then unnecessary absences from school will be reduced. Working together, parents and teachers can reduce the absenteeism of school children and significantly increase a child’s chance of success.
As parents, let your child know you expect them to attend school every day. You can explain to them that just like parents have a job, the child’s job is to attend school and prepare for the future. Communicate often with the teacher. Call them, email them, come in and visit the classroom. As parents you know what engages your children, and letting the teacher know early in the year will help them to prepare lessons that will challenge your son or daughter. When a child sees his/her parent in the schools they realize early the importance parents place on a good education.
Only together can parents, teachers, and school administrators completely achieve success in the education of children.