Promises and resolutions mark the start of the calendar year. January is a great time for schools to review behavioral expectations with students and families. One of the most important expectations a school can set is regular attendance. Habits form early and parents are a child’s first teacher. Educators need to empower parents and encourage them to teach their children about the importance of going to school.
Showing up is the greatest contribution a child can make to the classroom. Typically, when a student is absent, the teacher will send home “make up” work. Yet, there are events that occur in a classroom that can’t be sent home. The calm that falls over a class when the teacher reads a story aloud, the spontaneous song that breaks out occasionally, or the shared laughter when something silly happens in the classroom- these are intangible moments. They are the events that help create a special bond between teacher and students. They are the moments that move a classroom from school-like to family-like. No matter how hard we try, we can’t put those feelings in a backpack and send them home.
What message can school leaders share? Tell your teachers about the power of a phone call home when a child is absent. It lets the parent and child know you care and that it matters when they are not in school. Let parents know that we really do want the best for their children, not just today, but every day and that begins by building good habits. Other messages to share about attendance include:
- Good attendance helps children do well in school and eventually on the job
- Attendance matters as early as kindergarten
- Sporadic absences matter. Before you know it, a child has missed 10 percent of the school year
- Don’t let your child stay home unless he is truly sick. Complaints about a headache or stomach ache can be a sign of anxiety and not a reason to keep your child home from school
- Avoid medical appointments and extended trips when school is in session
Lastly, attending school regularly helps children feel better about school and themselves. My resolution for 2014 is to share the message of the importance of school attendance. I resolve to talk about it every day. See you in school!
Information contained in this blog came from www.attendanceworks.org.
Debbie Wooleyhand is a veteran educator and pupil personnel worker in a school district with over 70,000 students. She can be followed on Twitter @ppw78.